Thinking Out Loud: Ugly hand of death

John T. Catrett, III
John T. Catrett III

It’s crazy to think that we are assured tomorrow.  Why?  We will honestly never know when our time will come.  Death is no respecter of persons.  The best and worst, the poor and the rich, the young, middle age and the old will face death.  Death shows no partiality to anyone.  Some wonderful people in my life have passed away this last year.

The ugly hand of death took two marvelous ladies and one favorite uncle.  The two ladies were in great shape, one was in her mid 90s. She was a skydiver, a scuba diver and surfer, always smiling, dedicated to fitness, and full of life. She was one of the happiest persons we, her friends and family, have ever known.  Then death came knocking at her door, and she sweetly answered the tapping with a smile and joy in her heart.  But we felt ripped off having this incredible person in our lives taken in death!

The other was a young lady, who was my friend’s daughter, and she was in great shape, loved life, wonderful family, super education, amazing friends and a handsome fiancée. She was only in her mid 20s with an exciting future ahead of her. Yet, death came visiting and touched this precious soul so suddenly, without warning.  Our hearts are still reeling from the sudden void in our lives.  Life is not fair and can be so cruel!

 I loved all my uncles equally, but my uncle Gerald was my favorite youngest uncle.  He had a good heart and was a peacemaker in our family.  He was the type of man that would literally give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it.  He had a unique laugh, and oh how he loved to laugh, especially with his family.  Softly and quietly death came and took this dear gentle soul away from us, and we are still shaken with this tragic event in our family.

We may never know the reasoning for these losses, and for many in the family it was an experience that will prove to be the most difficult to comprehend and overcome.  My thoughts are not to continue mourning the loss of these remarkable people in our lives, but rather to ask ourselves what would they yearn for us to do? How would they wish for us to live our lives, and would they desire for us to cherish every precious moment?

Some people believe that those who die are up there watching over us, and they strongly desire to make bold decisions, great choices by standing strong, facing death without fear and going for what we believe in. We need to seize every day as an opportunity to do something that will drive us closer to each other and to achieve a better tomorrow for the people around us.  

Here are some thoughts that I believe are worthy of your consideration:

*Take peace in knowing that we are fortunate enough to be alive, that we are able overcome tiny, mind-numbing problems life throws at us.  Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger! 

* Enjoy the fact that we have to drive through a white-out blizzard or black ice that is causing us to be late to work late to work.... better late than never.

* Enjoy the fact that we can breathe a breath of fresh cool oxygen, for we never know when our last breath will be.

* If we break our leg, enjoy the fact that we have a leg that is able to be broken and heal!

*If we get a cold or become sick, be happy that we have a body that will heal itself and quickly become healthy again.  A week with a cough and runny nose is far better than having no week at all. Are there any nodding heads in agreement out there in Newspaper Land?

Our excessive, possessive concerns with our materialistic possessions make “things" - more important than people, which will only deaden our reality and appreciation to what we truly have.  Life is waaayyyy too short to worry and stress about non-essentials. Nervous tension and agonizing over what could or should have been only creates more anxiety for us and the people around us, while doing nothing to solve the actual problem.  Let’s chill out!  Let’s get focused on what really is important in our lives!

Let’s be grateful for every day we are awake.  Let’s strive every minute to become better - at work, with family, and at life.  Always growing, always learning and never fear trying or learning something new, as it will enable you to teach others about the abundant life that we are experiencing.

Always smile (it increases your face value) and live each moment to the fullest.

John T. Catrett III is ONHL hospice chaplain and writes a regular column about loss of loved ones and how to cope with grief.