Death’s first embrace

May 1, 2014

There is no easy way to embrace death, doesn’t matter much who’s death it is - death is the final crushing blow to any relationship. Death brings with him the final whisper - the last touch, the never ending separation of one heart from another. I have been touched by death’s grip on life many, many times over the many years of my life, and now in the later years of my life she always leaves me with heartache, tears, and a sense of loss.

I have seen death in many dresses, variations of suits - sometimes with a tie, most times without. Just as death is always visible for me - in dress or suit, death has left me with many different reactions. During the very early years of my life death took from me my Grandma, for me at four it was a subtle loss, for my mother however , losing her mom so early in her life forced on her the embrace of devastation.

During my younger days death often called on my friends and family. Bobby’s dad passed unexpectedly, and within one year Steve’s granddad, Johnny’s dad, and Jackie’s mom - all of these passing’s touched me, but none with great grief or a deep sense of loss. But, given time and age, death would reveal her “sting”.

She was simply amazing, her personality warm and outgoing - her smile could stop a rampaging bull (without a doubt there were a few at work), her laughter would bring warmth into a cold heart. I was 26; Janet was only 19 - very young to be so full of life, hope, and love. We were very close, much like brother and sister. I was called by her mom who whispered to me, “Janet died last night, will you please come to her funeral service and carry her coffin?” That was Death’s first embrace of devastation in my life - it would not be her last.

For humankind, Death has been given “rules of expectation.” We expect our parents to live long until we are old, our children to outlive us, and friends to live long and happy. But life and death listen to very little of what humankind defines as “rules.” He was six months old, he was our son, our fourth child - we could not envision the future without him. Death came alone, she left with our son. Christie will forever live in our hearts - his death, many years passed still haunts me - there are times of tears, times of deep loss and times of remorse related to “what could have been.”

Both time and death have passed my life often. June pushes me into my 72nd year, and Death has taken my dad, my dearest mom, and my sister, Honey. I pray with intensity that death will leave my children alone, that she’ll pass them by - that he’ll not touch the grandchildren, who are indeed life’s joy. This year, I’ll celebrate 45 years of love, hope, and incredible faith – these things came into my life the day Christina M. Worthington, age 20 came into my life. Nothing in life has been the same - but I know this well: my life began the day she came - it’ll end the day she leaves.