Monday, January 2, 2012

24 Minutes or 90 Years--Never Enough

December saw one birth and two deaths in my circle of friends. Sadly, one of the deaths occurred 24 minutes after the birth. The tiny coffin at the funeral was heart-breaking to see, leaving not a single dry eye in the church. While undeniably sad, the funeral also celebrated 24 minutes of life. There had been a strong chance that young Chris would not be born alive, so the parents' one hope was that Chris would be born alive so that they could hold him and tell him they loved him. This hope was realized and was cause for joy in the midst of imminent sorrow. Chris may have lived only 24 minutes, but he was well loved every single second.

Frank, on the other hand, lived 90 years. He was a vitally alive, engaged person up to his death. He amazed me all the time. While Frank needed some physical help--a walker and oxygen, his mind was agile, fertile, and creative. He was always setting challenges for himself. Recently, he finished a book with no form of the verb to be. What a feat that was! If anyone would live to see 100 years old, it was Frank, or so he and we, his friends and family, believed without a doubt. Alas, an embolism, post hip surgery, brought that hope to an end. Frank's death left many bereft. His friends cannot believe he is gone. His wife is not ready to be a widow.

What did Frank and Chris have in common? Both died well loved, and both are deeply missed. Perhaps the secret to a live well lived, whether one's life lasts 24 minutes or 90 years or somewhere inbetween, is to die well loved and missed by those who love you. All the other silly things we pursue--financial wealth, awards, material goodies--are just that in the end--silly. No one cares about those things when facing death because what we all want, when it comes right down to it, is not one more dollar or one more car, but one more hug and one more chat. And, whether you live 24 minutes or 90 years, it never seems like enough to loved ones left behind.

Take care,


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