Yesterday we laid to rest a wonderful man and father. Today my roommate and best friend and her three kids will be try to get back into some sort of daily routine while still trying to grasp the tragedy that has befallen them.
Last week, the father of her children and the man she was married to for ten years passed away in his sleep. A brain aneurysm. At the age of 39. He would've turned 40 next week.
I knew Jeff. I knew him well. After me and my husband separated, I lived with him and my best friend for a while as I searched for an apartment. He introduced me to Buffy. We'd spend hours on Saturdays, me sitting on the chaise, him on the couch, watching episode after episode while Heather was at work.
That was three years ago.
Three years brings a lot of change. He and Heather ended up separating as well and I moved in here with my kids and Jeff moved out.
But one thing never changed.
He was a wonderful, loving man. A wonderful, loving father. He had a huge grin and gave it freely. He also had the best hugs you'd ever been given. He didn't just hug you, he squeezed you and you felt his affection all the way to your bones. I'll miss those hugs.
We are all devastated, but my devastation doesn't compare to what Heather and her kids are feeling right now. My heart aches for them. Aches for those kids.
This is the first time I've been truly touched by death. Yes, I've had grandparents die, and they were sad times to go through. But there was comfort in knowing they'd lived a long, full life with children, then grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren.
This. A man with so much life still ahead of him. I still can't wrap my mind around.
I've spent a lot of the week thinking...reflecting, feeling for the first time that anyone can be gone in a second. There are no guarantees we'll get to grow old, see our kids grow up, watch them get married, have kids of their own or, one day, have grandchildren to spoil.
Facing your mortality at the age of 35 is terrifying. I got damn lucky that I reached the age of 35 before having to really stare death in the face. The three kids left behind, my kids, who I had to sit down and explain what happened, wasn't lucky. They know. At the tender ages of 12, 9, and 8, they know that every one of us is dying. Could be in our sleep tonight or it could be when we're old and gray and a huge family of children and grandchildren surrounding us as we pass on. But we are all dying.
All we can do is live the life we have with the time we are given.
That exact line is in my upcoming book. Those words now give me chills. Why?
When I wrote them months ago, I truly didn't grasp their meaning. I thought I did. But I didn't. I do now. And I embrace them.
I, for one, have been changed this week. And I hope as time passes and we fall back into our daily lives, get caught up in the day-in-day-out, I don't forget how this tragedy has made me stop and reassess. Because I believe I have been changed for the better.
Jeff you left this world too soon. But if any positive has come out of your death, it will be you've made everyone realize you grab your happiness now. Don't wait for tomorrow. You helped simplify life. Bring into focus what is truly important, and that's living.
I promise myself to not take things so damn seriously. Have a lot more patience. Not yell as much. Let things go far more easily. Don't worry. Have fun.
Rest in peace, my friend. We will miss you.