Friday, August 19, 2011

Thirty years old. Died from a heart attack.

This morning Duane and I went to breakfast at Denny's.  He'll be up in Irvine at a class, and I'll be at home, working on my syllabus and course reader.  Breakfast together seemed like a good plan.  After 33 years, I never get tired of spending time with Duane.  

I came home and decided to read the paper and scan Facebook.  Facebook is a great way to stay caught up with friends and family.  Owls serenaded Denise last night and kept her from sleeping.  Lou's grandson is turning six.  Robin's taking her daughter up to Biola for her first year of college.  Nice stuff.  I wouldn't know any of this without Facebook.  

Jon gave dating advice to guys:  If a girl thinks you're important, she'll make time for you.  Fairly good advice.  Facebook's good for that kind of thing too.  

Venessa posted a prayer request for B, a friend whose husband had a heart attack last night and didn't make it.  Venessa and her husband Sven grew up with this young man, who was only 30 years old and had three-year-old daughter.  B. is 21 weeks pregnant.  

I don't know Venessa's friend, J.  I don't know B., his wife.  But I can pray.  

As I pray, I picture the young wife and I begin to imagine what she is feeling.  Alone.  With one little girl and one more baby on the way.  She won't wake up next to her husband tomorrow morning.  He won't massage her ankles.  He won't encourage her when she goes into labor.  He won't grow old with her so they can go to Denny's on a quiet Friday morning.  These thoughts make me catch my breath and grieve for the loss, even though I don't know J. or his wife.

Most of the time, I forget to thank God for life and breath and a heart that keeps beating.  

My dad had a massive heart attack and died almost immediately.  My brother called me from Colorado Springs, and I heard the words, and I knew they were true, but it didn't seem real.  I flew out to be with my mom, and we chose clothes for him to wear and took care of funeral arrangements, but it still didn't seem final.  Even after seeing him in the casket, even after the funeral and the trip to the cemetery, it didn't seem real and so in the car, on the way home to San Diego, I loudly announced, "My dad's dead."  I paused and said it again, to no one in particular, mostly because I needed to hear the words.  I continued to repeat those words over and over periodically on the trip home.  I needed the loss to sink into my soul so I could know.  My dad was gone.  

But my dad was 69 years old when he had his heart attack.  He had watched all his kids grow up, get married, have kids.  He had laughed and traveled and spent nearly fifty years with my mom.  We miss him.  My mom misses him the most.  

I don't want to imagine what it would be like to grow up without a dad.  

I want to ask, "Why?"  But "why" doesn't matter right now.  No answer would ever be good enough. 

And so I pray for B., the wife of Venessa's friend and for their children.  I pray that God puts his arms around  B. and comforts her, that he provides for her, that she has friends who will be there for her when she feels alone.  This is a long-term prayer need.  Three years after losing my dad, my mom still feels very, very alone.  

But I don't know B., and chances are that even though I will pray for intermittently all day today and possibly tomorrow, after a while, I'll forget.  B. will never forget.  Her kids will never forget.  

B.'s story reminds me to treasure the moments I have with my husband, with my kids, with dear friends and family members.  I tend to get distracted by urgent things in life, like school and work.  I tend to get anxious about uncertainties in my life, and when I get caught up in my fear, I miss important moments with people I care about. 

And it reminds me to care for the people I have in my life. I just called my mom.  I don't do that enough.  

It sounds like a cliche, but life is short.  It doesn't come with any guarantees.  All we get is today, which may go well or not so well.  But we do get today.  Let's make it matter.  

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