Creativity Magazine

In Light of Untimely Death, Aging is a Privilege Indeed

By Legosneggos @LegosnEggos

I heard about the death of an old friend this week, five months after the fact.  She just up and died at 42, so suddenly, of an inexplicable seizure.  She left behind a husband that I know she loved dearly and two daughters of whom she was very proud, as she told me a few years ago.

She was a friend from childhood, a couple of years younger.  She was very mature for her age back then and the pastor’s daughter.  She was very discerning, even back then, and wise to be so young.  But she wasn’t a wallflower.  She was out in the middle and running things just like her sweet little sister, not ever for attention but because the girls considered their parents church to be their responsibility as well.

Paula was a little powerhouse, and I read that she lived her adult life the same way, heading up her kids’ classes as room mother and constantly ministering to others among many other things.  She learned it from her parents.  She appreciated life and lived it fully, with spunk but sincerity, joyfully for God and those she loved, and without reservation.  What a lovely soul.

It’s funny how some people stand out in your mind while others float away from your memory over the years.  It seems that this girl made a lasting impression on me, and so I have awakened the past couple of mornings with that feeling of dread, that first comes to you as the thought, “Now, what was that negative event that happened that you have to remember today?  Yeah, that’s right — Paula is gone.”

Paula was the person to contact me when my nieces were killed in a horrific accident.  She came to me, no one else, and that meant the world to me.  She was also one of the faces I was glad to see at my brother’s funeral a few years back.  She was always there to comfort, not being a busybody but truly caring and consoling.

Paula, I am sure that you deserved a longer life than I.  But I think what happened was, you worked so heartily and swiftly that you finished all your duties on Earth much more quickly than the rest of us would have (being a great organizer and can-do person), and so your to-do list was all checked off.

The thought that always goes through my mind about untimely death is, shouldn’t early death belong only to death-wishing, fool-hearty risk takers and wayward and arrogant rebels?  Thankfully not, though, or I know a couple of other dear ones I would have lost early, maybe myself a few times.

Still, what I will be sure to do this year is to keep in mind that I am living on where someone — someone good and purehearted — is not.  I have been permitted to move forward for a while longer where she was not, for whatever purpose, and so I should try to be less ordinary, less mundane, and filled with appreciation.

I started eating more fiber (apples and oatmeal) everyday.  I am going to do more meditation than I usually do and try to get back into my light yoga stretching.  I am going to hug my kids more tightly (cliche phrase, I know, but so true) knowing that they could wake up without me and have to backtrack to recall evidence of my great love for them.  Mostly, I think I will contemplate each day that I am blessed with in terms of quality — how much I put in rather than what I get out, and what I accomplish on my life list.

I ran across an old saying the other day that has stuck with me and will for a while:

“Do not despise old age.  Many have been denied the privilege.”  

So true — many who deserved to be here much more than I do, so I plan to make my remaining time here count for more than I have thus far.  Our days are numbered, indeed, and we should always remember that.

Goodbye, sweet Paula.  We all know you made it to your dream destination, and I and everyone else are celebrating for you.  You were a rare and precious person.

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