In the past two weeks, I received news about deaths from two different friends in the Bay Area. The first was about our friend Eric’s mother. The second was a high school classmate and former coworker, Lisa. Both lost their lives to cancer, pancreatic and ovarian, respectively.
In a world in which hundreds and thousands of deaths occur each day and in which each news cycle contains gruesome stories of murder, war, starvation and and natural disaster, I paused to reflect on the lives of these two women. As some of you know, I write letters to my nieces, now ages three and six, which are sealed and kept in a box for them to open when they turn eighteen. I’d like to share with you an excerpt of what I wrote to my younger niece, Ava:
I received news of the loss of two people, one the mother of a friend and the other a former classmate and coworker. Both died younger than they should have, which is sometimes the way of the world. Both of them left behind many people who cared for them and cared about them deeply. And their loss reminds me of an important lesson, one I hope you’ll learn at the earliest possible age.
Life is precious and short and all too often we lose those we love unexpectedly and earlier than we want to. And even when our loved ones do live a long and full life, we are still destined to lose them. Because of that, each moment we have them in our lives is a valuable one, much too valuable to spend with a heart filled with anger or hatred or scorn. Instead, fill those moments with love and kindness and forgiveness, because one day we will no longer have the opportunity to tell the people we love, “I’m sorry; I love you.”
I hope both Mrs. K’s family and Lisa’s family are comforted by the memories they have of these special ladies and that their tears of sorrow are interspersed with laughter as they think of the good times they enjoyed.
I hope that each of us can learn and relearn the lesson brought by their family’s loss because it is a loss all of us have, or will, experience. Don’t waste time with anger; fill each moment with love.