Monday, December 11, 2006

A lesson for you

Last Tuesday morning when I arrived at work, I was packed and ready to spend the week in Atlanta on business. Unfortunately, and unbelievably, I got word early that morning that the husband of one of my close friends and co-workers Joni (that's her below with me on the couch) had passed away Monday night. He was 36 years old. He was married to Joni for 4 years, and they have a 2-year old son, Kendall. I was shocked, in tears, immediately cancelled three days of my trip, and I told my team one-by-one as they came in for work.

This was completely unexpected. Out of the blue, he collapsed at work Monday night; his heart gave up.

His visitation was Friday afternoon. We went as a team. I was so anxious to see Joni. She is holding up as well as can be expected. She is an unbelievably strong woman, and she is an example for everyone. Her sense of humor is getting her through. The funeral was Saturday. To see her sobbing over his casket was an image I will long hold in my mind. The funeral was heart-wrenching; even all the talk of Heaven and seeing him again someday barely seemed to register: what do those words mean in the moments after the love of your life is ripped from you? How comforting are they in the stillness of a dark and empty house two weeks before Christmas? I know they are supposed to make everyone feel better. But I can't imagine that they brought much relief to my friend in her darkest hour.

Saturday night after the funeral I lay in the bed while Keith read a magazine, my head on his chest, listening to his heart beat over and over and over. And I imagined the fraility of life, of the human body, of the heart. All over the world right now billions of hearts are beating, just doing their thing, keeping people alive. But also all over the world right now, hearts are giving out, exploding, tearing, seizing, and people are collapsing and dying unexpectedly. We aren't promised even one more day, not one more second. Not one more good-bye kiss, not one more phone call just to check in. It doesn't seem fair; it's not fair. Sometimes it feels too risky to love somebody so much.

I am thinking about Joni constantly.

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