I woke up this morning to a text message from an old friend, telling me that her father had passed away during the night.
Actually, this old friend was my girlfriend all through high school, after which we tragically broke up (meaning I cruelly dumped her, but that's another story) and lost contact with each other for most of 20 years. We've talked since, in the past 3-4 years, and keep in touch sporadically, enough to tell each other about our family and children. For me personally, there's been some good healing there.
The text message had been very simple: My dad passed away last night. I sat silent for a moment, trying to clear the sleepy cobwebs from my brain, and trying to remember her dad. It'd been 25 years or so since I'd seen or talked to him. I figure I was 19 or so the last time we spoke (which is about the time I dumped his daughter, but again, different story).
I wondered what to say to her. I haven't really experienced a loss like that in my life. I've been very lucky/unlucky (you pick, I haven't quite decided which it is yet) not to have experienced the death of a truly close loved one. My grandmother Florence died in 1995, but I hadn't really been close to her for years (to my great sadness now). My former mother-in-law died in 1996, but she was back in Oklahoma, and I'd never developed a real close relationship with her. So the losses I've experienced, although very sad, have not the loss of a close loved one for me.
So I thought of my friend, her husband and their kids, her sisters and brothers (some of whom I knew well back then) and really took it to heart that a family had lost their father. As with all parent/child relationships, some of the kids are closer with their parents than others, but ALL feel the loss to some degree.
Its the closing of a chapter. The end of an era, and an ending to possibilities.
I wished my friend and her family the best, and will be praying for their family, and especially her mother. I know she loved her husband dearly, and will miss him.
After I woke all the way up and started the coffee, my own dad called and we talked for a while. He's getting older and having physical problems of his own. I know before too many years pass I will experience this loss in my life as well. It's something we all have to deal with, eventually.
Say the things you want to say to your elderly loved ones right now, folks. I've learned this much from watching others deal with death. Not much you can say or do after they pass away. Live today, talk today, and walk today. Don't wait for these types of things until tomorrow, because you just never know if you will have a tomorrow or not.