I hate to wait. I grew up in a family where it was a matter of fact that we would be late–for church, for school, for almost anything. My sister, from tales told, got an” award” at her Senior High School banquet for being late for school every day of the school year. Mind you, it was never her fault; there was always someone lollygagging behind when it came time to drive our large family to school or anywhere else, for that matter.
So, as an adult, I have always tried to be on time, if not a bit early. This is almost an obsession of mine, as I reckon being late shows lack of moral fortitude and respect. But lately, I have seen how being early can be devastating.
A few days ago, my sister “D” called to say that her mother-in-law passed away at the age of 82. You’d think 82 would be long enough for anyone to live, but this woman was amazingly healthy. Lorraine had lost her son 25 years ago and her husband 10 years ago, enough to make even the strongest person want to just wait till death came to carry her back to her loved ones. But this woman made a point of making every day, every moment of her life, matter. She was an avid–to the point of obsessive–bicycler, and was involved in every community project she could volunteer for. Then one morning, her biking partner came to her home for their usual morning ride, only to find that Lorraine had died in her sleep. A full life, at age 82? I say gone far too early.
My own mother-in-law, Alice, died this way as well. She was 71, not in the best of health, but so full of life, love, and ambition that the shock of losing her still weighs on my mind almost 30 years later. She was alive, lively, and living her life one moment, then the next moment a heart attack took that all away. Words can’t describe the horror and devastation of finding her body. Words can’t describe the excruciating pain of telling her children she was gone.
When a child dies, it’s too soon. When anyone younger than ourselves dies, it’s too soon. But when someone we love and admire dies, regardless of their age, dies, it will always be too soon.
Alice is with her husband Vic and daughter Eda; Lorraine is with her husband Phil and son Tim. Knowing this gives us great comfort, but losing them was, and always will be, too soon.