My wife and I have seen the same horrible pattern lately. We went out to dinner the other night and got some bad news about some distant friends. It keeps cropping up in the lives of friends, family members, and acquaintances.
It goes like this: A couple spends a lifetime working to build a family and a life together. When the alarm goes off in the morning, they groan, they hit the snooze button, but they eventually get up and out of bed, aches, and all, and trudge off to work.
They put in a full day’s worth of work, and they do it the next day, next day, and the next, and the next. They keep this up for twenty to thirty years. They help their kids get an education and they save for their retirement. They dream about one day living at the beach or in the mountains, spending their days however they want to spend them, and not the way some boss tells them, but they put those dreams on hold.
When they’re finally close to their retirement dream, when they’re so close that it’s a stone’s throw away, something happens, one of them gets ill. The plan they both worked for goes up in smoke.
In one story we heard, the wife suffered a stroke and died just a few short weeks before the husband was set to retire. In another, the husband was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and spent his last weeks in the hospital.
It’s not fair
I suspect these stories touch my wife and I so deeply, because of our age and the tragic nature of the stories. We’ve heard any number of stories lately that fall into this general pattern. After hearing the latest one, I jotted a reminder note to myself to schedule my annual physical.
As I was writing my note, however, I read another story about three-time Olympic sprinter Deon Lendore, from Trinidad and Tobago, who died in a head-on car crash in Texas. Lendore had worked as a volunteer coach at Texas A&M and was driving home from practice when he collided with an SUV and died at the scene. He was only 29.
Love is blind
I had never heard of Lendore before, but the story hit me. He was so young. He had accomplished much, but had just started his life. They say love is blind. I guess it holds true too for death. Age doesn’t matter. Background doesn’t matter. When death comes, it comes.
As sad as death is though, this is not meant to be some dark, depressing walk through of life’s cemetery. No, no, the stories reminded me that we all have a choice. We can see death through gloomy shadows, or we can see it as a reminder that life is a gift that does not last forever, and we should make the most of every second.
Yes, a husband lost a wife, a wife lost a husband, but they spent decades building a family and memories that will live on. God gives us time on Earth. It’s ours to use as we wish. The challenge for us is to make sure that we use that time the best way we can.
How will you use yours?