I've been to three funerals this year. Sadly, only one was for a man who was buried by his wife, children, grand-children, and great grand-children, a man who had lived a long life; who had seen generations of his family grow and marry, had seen more generations born. Another was for a man who was killed by a train, who left behind his beautiful girlfriend and their amazing daughter, just days before his little girl's third birthday. Another for an old friend who was a first responder to the explosion in West, Texas. At 33, he left behind a beautiful wife and handsome three-month old son.
Next week I will go to the funeral for my uncle, who at the age of 45 succumbed to a virulent cancer.
My whole body feels cold, my chest is heavy and I find that I need to remind myself several times a day that my uncle has died. His energy, passion for life, amazing sense of humor, and youthfulness makes it impossible to believe that he is gone. While it aches to know that he is no longer here, my heart recognizes that his illness was such that his peace was not to be found on this earth. I remind myself that even in his last moments, he smiled when I told him that I loved him, he squeezed my hand, and when he breathed his last he was not alone. My cousin, Katelyn and I were holding his hands and his sister (Katelyn's mom, my aunt) Susan had her hand on his head. He was supported, surrounded by love, and cherished, and most importantly, he was not alone. That night, felt so palpably in the room was the powerful sensation of his mother, our grandmother, as she waited to take her beloved son to Heaven. It was easy to let him go, knowing that she was there waiting for him.
In my life I have lost many friends, family members, and acquaintances. Tragically, unexpectedly, or due to terrible disease and I'd like to share with you what I feel I have learned. .I've learned not to fear looking silly, to be afraid of having my heart broken, of living loudly, and brightly. I've done things that I can cringe over, been rejected, but I know that when I go to sleep at night, there are no what-ifs or should haves. I know that I have lived and that I lived bravely. Because you never, never know. Not when you'll go, when the people you love will be gone, or when we will all go together.
Live for today, for tomorrow is not promised - but a dream, a hope, a wish. This moment, right now, this second, is all we are promised and it is a fleeting promise at that.
Rest in peace sweet Peter, Eric, Kevin and Grandpa Rudnick. We'll miss you, we love you, and we promise to treat with gratitude every second that we have.