Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Facing Mortality

The week before Christmas, I entered into a new phase of life. A friend died suddenly. She apparently had a heart attack and died instantly. At 57, she was just a few years younger than me. Her memorial service was the Saturday after Christmas.

I’ve lost a few friends to cancer over the years, but somehow this one felt different. Heart attacks happen to “older people.” Heart attacks seem to scream more loudly, “You’re aging. Your days are numbered.” And heart attacks are sudden, giving no warning. This was a mom I had home schooled with. Her son is a few years younger than my son. She was busy living her life, and suddenly she was gone, leaving a shocked and devastated husband and son.

Every funeral causes me to evaluate my own life. What is my legacy? What will they say about me? When my time comes, will I be satisfied with how I’ve spent my years or will I have regrets? What will I be remembered for? The pastimes I’ve invested my life in or the things I considered unimportant? Will I feel ready, content? Or will I insist on more time? (Not that it will do me any good!) I’m always grateful for the opportunity to take stock. Without funerals, I confess I’d become pretty complacent and give little thought to the fragility of my life.

My friend didn’t have family in the area, so several of us took on planning and serving at the memorial reception. We quickly pulled together a nice luncheon and worked together to serve. I wondered how many more such events I’d find myself serving at in the next 20 years or so. Or which of these women—friends for over 20 years--would be serving for me? As I was making little sandwiches, I thought, “This is what the “older women” in the church do.” And now, it looks as if I’m one of the older women. Am I ready for this?

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2 comment(s):

I'm feeling much the same way as I find myself at "that age" when people's parents are dying, when I still feel like I'm at "that age" where everyone is getting married or having their first baby.

What happened?

By Anonymous Elizabeth, at 6:11 AM  

A very similar thing happened to me in December 2006. A friend, age 53, died in his sleep. When I spoke at his funeral, I found myself wondering who will speak at mine. What if I am the last of circle of family and friends to pass on.

I remembered a corny old Oliver Wendell Holmes poem we had to memorize in junior high. It ends with these words:

And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.

By Blogger Pete, at 6:31 AM  

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