Live like we’re dying

This is my Uncle Peter.  Technically D’s.  He became mine 10 years ago when he introduced me as his niece.  Not his nephew’s wife.  Not his niece-in-law.  His niece because that was the kind of man he was.

This is my Uncle and Zizi Angie. They’ve been married 50 years.  Only 47 years in this picture because this was taken three years ago.

This is my uncle and his brother, my father-in-law.  These pictures were taken on my father-in-law’s 75th birthday.

 My sister-in-law called my yesterday at 12:30.  She told me she had bad news.  I immediately burst into tears.  I knew what had happened.

Life’s little ironies… This was what I was blogging about during my lunch break when I got the call:

“I think it’s the title of last season Idol winner’s first song.  I could Google his name but that would mean opening another browser window.  I’m feeling a bit lazy today so I’ll settle for whatshisname.

I don’t much like his song, but the title is really resonating with me today.

I’m reaching that age where people are literally dying.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, friend’s parents, co-worker’s parents, neighbors… Or if they are not dying, they are aging and getting really, really sick.

I realize that life is fragile and short.  I’m reminded again and again that more than anything else, health is the most important thing.  So, that’s pretty much all I pray for these days.”

My uncle passed away late morning.  I think he went peacefully.  His wife of 50 years, his sister and his first-born daughter were with him.  He is survived by his wife, his four children and his 9 grandchildren.  He was loved by his family, friends and neighbors.  He was loved by me, his niece of 10 years.

After I dried my tears, I did what I had to do.  I  picked up my family and we gathered around my aunt’s house.  We sat.  We mourned.  We ate.  We even laughed.  We sat some more and then we left.  We’ll do this again tonight, tomorrow, the day of the viewing and the day of the funeral.  This is what we do as I found, all too, well when my mother-in-law passed.

Somehow it is comforting.  It isn’t all sadness.  We catch up on people’s lives.  We see faces we haven’t seen since the last baptism, wedding or funeral.  We celebrate the life that passed and celebrate the life we continue to live.

So, we need to live like we’re dying.  Life is too short.  But in dying we live eternally through memories and the lives of those left behind.  And I have found that in death, we continue to celebrate life.

Rest in peace Uncle Peter.  It has been a privilege knowing you.


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