Over the weekend, Jamie and I drove about 45 minutes north to a small community on the Mississippi River to participate in Eagle Days. Eagle Days is an effort by the Department of Conservation to educate people about the bald eagles that roost and nest along the rivers in the winter. We watched a movie about the bald eagle's near extinction, saw a live eagle program put on by the Wild Bird Sanctuary and watched the eagles fly over the river, hunting for fish. It was cold, but bearable, sunny and an almost-perfect way to spend a winter's day. And then Jamie's phone rang...
His cousin's son, only 21-years young, died unexpectedly in his sleep Friday night. No reason, no explanation, no discernible cause. Conversations of autopsies and 911 calls and the heartbreak of two parents...and innumerable aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, siblings, friends...
We were shocked. Tried to go about our day, keeping this young man and his family in our thoughts and prayers. We'd be talking about eagles one minute, exclaiming over the majestic sight it is to see them soaring above...and our conversation would suddenly shift, to conversation of Jesse, a life gone too quickly. It's safe to say that our thoughts were preoccupied by Jesse's death and the heartbreak of his parents. Because though we cannot know their pain or their circumstance, we know the pain of walking this earth when your child does not.
And so, many times throughout the day and into the evening, I found myself overcome with tears. Sad for a life cut short...sad for parents that will never be the same, that will miss their child until the day they die...sad at our own individual pain that never quite goes away.
Jesse...Kayla...Leah...Allison...Faith. Lives lost too soon, at various ages and stages, all leaving behind parents that are forced to figure out how to move forward when it feels as though the world around you has stopped moving. I know now that I will think about my child every day of my life. For the rest of my life. I have figured out how to move forward...how to honor her and remember her and how to be happy more than sad.
But, on days like these, those sad moments creep in because it so immediately puts you right back into that place of your own pain. Knowing how heart-wrenching it is to walk this path and continue on. It is a reminder of memories that haunt and hurt. And memories that bring smiles.
Though we did not know Jesse well, I will use this as a reminder to live life to the fullest because once again, the reminder exists that life has no guarantees. So if there is something you want to do, do it. If there is somewhere you want to go, go there. If there is someone you want to know, meet them. If there is something you want to be, be it. For life is short, without a guarantee and all too often, we are reminded of that too late for someone's son or daughter.
2 years ago