It is frequently said that life is gone in the blink of an eye. How often is someone taken away from us, no matter how old, and we tell ourselves that they still had so much to live for? That is one of the unending experiences in life. Not just death but also loss. I got a text from my sister yesterday telling me that she had a horrible nightmare about me and just telling me that she loves me and that my life has touched so many people. It really made my mind start to turn. It kept stabbing at me so I knew that I had to write to break the writers block that I have been experiencing lately.
Some of the things that I have come across numerous times are the cemeteries. The older cemeteries are always a shock due to the young ages that people died. So many people in the 1800’s and earlier died before their 35th birthday. It was a different world back then and we have increased our life expectancies due to modern achievements. It’s always hard to lose someone and it was not uncommon for parents to lose most of their children before they became adults.
The thought has crossed my mind, that on this trip I could get into a traffic accident and die. Of course I don’t want that to happen, but I’m sure that very few people involved in fatal accidents wanted to die. Death has been on my mind a bit lately as it nears the one year anniversary of a friends death. She was 24 and it shocked me when she died. I didn’t want to believe it. A sad fact of life is that death is always around us. People die every day but the world continues to turn. Life continues to go on.
I stood in New York City at the site of the World Trade Center and was struck with an overwhelming sense of grief. As I dragged my hand across the names etched in the plaque, I felt a connection to each and every one of the souls lost in that tragedy, even though I probably never met any of them. It pulled at my soul as I remembered the emotions that I felt on that day and as I imagined what it must have felt like to each one of them and their families. I have also stopped at Arlington National Cemetery and Gettysburg where I reflected on the ultimate sacrifice that many men and women have paid for my freedom.
When I was visiting with my brother in Maryland, we were talking about experiences that we had with our uncle and remembering how he made each of us feel like we were his favorite nephews. He had that special talent. I remember my Uncle Joe taking me out on my birthday to the beach. As we were driving the coast, the fog horn blew right as we passed it. I looked over at my uncle, and he told me that he knew the fog horn inspector and had asked to have the horn blown as we passed by to wish me a Happy Birthday. Later that night as I was opening presents and having cake, I got a phone call from the Fog Horn Inspector himself, wishing me a Happy Birthday. It wasn’t until after he died that I found out that he had called me from upstairs on the other phone line and pretended to be the Fog Horn Inspector just to make my birthday that much more special. That is the kind of uncle and father that I want to be. That is the kind of person that I want to be. More than twelve years after his death he is still an inspiration to me. I am still sad sometimes that I was not able to properly thank him and tell him how much I loved him when he was alive. I just pray that he can hear me now and knows how much he impacted my life.
I know that I have mentioned several times in my blogs that life is short, and that is because it is! I hope that I have lived a life that I can leave an impact on other people. I hope that I have been able to provide joy to people who needed it. I hope that I have been able to provide hope to people through music when I sung at mass. I hope that I have been able to provide encouragement to people who just needed a little push. I hope most of all, that I have been able to provide inspiration to others to experience their lives and to recognize the love that we have to share even if it is just saying hello to a stranger in line. Even if you get a grumpy response from someone at the time, they may remember that moment years down the line and it could still change their life.