Saturday: Three Funerals and a Birthday Party

Why is death always a surprise. It is, after all, a foregone conclusion. There has been a turnaround. Our social calendar is filled with more celebrations of life than celebrations in life.

In spite of this cumulative knowledge and no matter how many years we have lived, we are stunned when life ends for someone we know. The call comes. We are shocked into numbness.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my own death in recent months and have felt at peace. In fact, just last week I reminded myself of the Toltec belief in the Angel of Death – that my life is in the hands of that angel and can be taken as easily as it was given. It is a good reminder that my days are precious.

Sadly, however, this week I have been reminded again that the lives of those I love are also precariously balanced.

And I’m not ready for that reminder. As I sit with a long-time friend I’m not prepared with any answers to why her son is gone. I recognize the nightmare. I know the longing to wake up to a different reality. And still my only comfort is to sit with her and share memories and disbelief.

I don’t want to make the calls either. I don’t want to call my children and tell them that the youngest in their childhood cohort has died. I don’t want to awaken that uncertainty that we all feel when someone dies out of what we think of as the proper sequence. I don’t want to think of the fragility of their lives or awaken that awareness in them.

But my time has come. I am old enough. Already the calls we receive are more frequent. And we brace ourselves to dial the necessary numbers. The longer we live, the more calls we will make and the more we will receive.

Still it is always a surprise.




  1. I just saw you…when in the world did this happen? Yes, the suddenness stuns. Moments are not expected to just STOP. The very nature of a moment is movement. But there is breath and then there is not. All of this is beginning to be so familiar


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