Life, Love & Death: Part 3

The final message was from Tom, a Vox neighbor. I have copied his story just for convenience, but it is of course on his blog...

You know, it’s easy to write a story. I can think up a character and put him in all kinds of situations. Just like my last entry, I can write a story where the character gets picked on and then finds the inner strength to overcome it. The thing is, though, no matter what I write, that character doesn't exist and every situation that he gets into, every feeling that he has is totally make believe. There is no physical attachment between me and the character. It's not real life.
On the other hand, real life hit me in the gut this morning after I got to work. I started my normal routine of checking e-mails and following up on items that I had been working on yesterday when an older woman that I work with brought a sympathy card to me. One of the guy's mothers had passed away and, like normally happens, a card is passed around for everyone to sign. Mary was standing there waiting for me to sign the card when she whispered something that I couldn't quite understand. I work in a loud factory and it is often hard to hear, so I finished signing the card and turned to face her so I could pay close attention to what she was saying, "What did you say?"
She said, "My brother was killed on Saturday."
I blinked in disbelief, not expecting this kind of news at all, especially from the person who was passing around a sympathy card for someone else. I can honestly say that my heart started hurting when she told me that. In a clumsy, stuttering voice I told her that I was sorry and she started telling me what happened. Her eyes watered up and she told me how a 17 year old boy swerved off the road and then jerked back on, sending his car across the road head on into her brother's car. Her brother was killed instantly and the young boy died on the way to the hospital.
What do you say at a time like that?  "I'm sorry"  just doesn't seem like enough, but that's all that I found myself saying. She managed to fake a little smile and said, "Thank you." Then she was walking away, off to get the sympathy card signed by someone else.
I have more respect for that woman than she will ever know. Here she was, grieving over the loss of her brother, and she was doing every thing she could to comfort someone else in their time of grief. It humbled me and I have been thinking about it ever since. Life can be so unpredictable… and so painful.

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12 thoughts on “Life, Love & Death: Part 3

  1. The suddenness of something like this really does give you a sick feeling in your stomach like the floor has suddenly dropped out from under you. Forces everyone to pause and consider life and the sudden void that was created. Thanks for sharing your stories and you will always be in my heart as well. Like the Buddhist monk said about his cup of tea, "If you are ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea. You will look down and the tea will be gone." Things like this force us to pause and fully appreciate the present and be in the moment.

  2. So hard for her! I want to give her hugs!Oh, on the last post I forgot to add have you ever seen the movie "13 conversations about one thing" ? It is very much in theme with these posts, it is a great movie. You should watch it.

  3. I love that! What a great quote, and so perfect for this situation. Did mom ever give you a copy of a book called "The Precious Present"? She gave me one and I remember it being a huge awakening for me. Same basic idea. Be in the here and now. Don't take anyone or anything for granted. Be present with those around you and say what's in your heart. So – FooMan – I love you (and Milena) and I am SO PROUD of the person you have become. You blow me away with the man that you are and your openness and passion for life. You are a good person and a big chunk of my heart.

  4. Me too… I've had two significant deaths – my dad and my grandmother. For both of them I took a week off to be with family and to grieve. I can't imagine being in that woman's shoes…

  5. Yeah. I found after my dad died that people didn't really want to know how I was doing. As sad as it is, I learned to give the pat answers they were looking to hear: It's a blessing… He's at peace now… At least he died surrounded by family… Blah blah blah… Only one or two people really tuned in to me, asked me how I was doing, and really wanted to hear the answer. They touched my heart forever.

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