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Posts Tagged ‘sudden death’

We seem to be going through a period where death is all around us. Within the last two weeks we lost a co-worker to cancer, my father-in-law had a stroke (which easily could have taken him from us), and a young man, who is close to our family, once again stopped his heart through his use of heroin (he is still in the Intensive Care Unit). Though the latter two survived, the sense of death’s nearness has been tangible. Then, a couple of days ago, we got word that one of the five soldiers killed in the friendly fire incident over in Afghanistan was from a small community that is immediately adjacent to the plant I’ve worked at for the last two decades. Though I didn’t know this boy personally, his family and friends are embedded in our community; and when I looked into his smiling face, I couldn’t help but think of my own son Patrick, who is enthusiastic to join the military when his school days are done. Finally, another co-worker was killed yesterday in a traffic accident, just outside the plant. This is the same intersection I’ve been passing through, on an almost daily basis, for over 20 years. Though the depth of my association to each of these individuals was varied, it’s hard not to feel a sense of connection to all of these events.

 

It’s probably a by-product of my age that I don’t necessarily turn my head from such things anymore. When you’re young, the concept of death can seem abstract, but as the years go by, the reality of it comes crashing in. Like these last two men, it can, and often does, come quickly and without warning. Such events should prompt us to consider each day as a gift, and to endeavor to make the most of them. Last night, as I drove past the site of the car accident, I thought about questions like, “What if that had been me?” “What would I wish I’d have said or done before that moment arrived; and what would suddenly seem like it had been a huge waste of my time?” Maybe that sounds morbid to some, but to me, it is a necessary part of making the most of my days. I’m not sure whether the man in the accident survived the initial impact, but if he did, I feel certain that he wasn’t thinking about the professional achievements of his career, or the balance of his IRA, or his golf handicap, or the status of his Fantasy Football team, or another one of the thousand things that compete for our time and energy. If we are fortunate enough to experience such a moment before stepping out of this life, I have no doubt that we will have a sudden clarity on what really matters. Unfortunately, by then, it’s too late to do anything about it. So even though it may seem strange, I’m not rushing to get past this recent rash of tragedies. As I pray for the families and communities impacted by these deaths, I also catch myself praying that the Lord will help me to make the most of the days that I have left. While a part of me hopes that I’ll have another 25 or 30 years of days, another part of me knows that I’m not guaranteed to make it to the end of this one. And if I die, before I wake, I pray that those closest to me would know how much I loved them, and that the Lord that I love will be able to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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