Last week, someone I have known for 30 years passed away. He was the father of a very dear friend. This was not the first time a parent of a friend passed but in those other situations, I didn’t really know their parents. I may have been introduced to them once at an event and that was the sum total of our acquaintance.
Mr. Z was different. He was more like family to me than a parent of a friend. He was a kind and gentle soul. He treated me like one of the family. I was warmly welcomed by him and Mrs. Z at holidays and other family events. He never just gave me the perfunctory “hello, how are you?” greeting. He would hug me and ask me what seemed liked a billion questions. He really cared about me and wanted to know that I was doing well.
When I got the call, I wasn’t exactly surprised. I knew his health had been deteriorating over the last 10 years, and more rapidly for the last six months, but I still hadn’t let myself contemplate that the end of the road was near for him.
I believe in God. It is a comfort to me at a time such as this to know that Mr. Z is in a better place. I realize his body had gotten tired and was no longer able to support him. His passing was in many ways was a blessing. Yet, I still feel the pain and sorrow that comes with knowing that there will be no more hugs or questions. Having known Mr. Z for so long, it felt like he would always be there. I realize that’s not a logical thought but that’s the way I felt.
Hard goodbyes like Mr. Z remind me of how fragile life can be. We get so caught up in the small stuff of life, we forget (or ignore) the fact that no one gets out alive. I am very aware at the moment of how vulnerable we all are. I think the best way to honor Mr. Z’s life is not to fear death but to embrace life instead by celebrating and being grateful for the opportunities to have known people like him.