It was an ordinary Saturday afternoon and Mary and I were just getting ready to head to Saturday evening mass. Mary looked at her phone and exclaimed “oh my god, Casey just died!” Casey was a young friend and fellow bike racer that had just attended our wedding. His girlfriend is a very good friend of ours. It happened because of a wreck at a major bicycle race. Mary and I drove to church, while being a little bit quiet and a little bit numb.
During catholic masses, there is a point where everyone prays for the recently deceased with a “Lord hear our prayer” as the lector reads out the names of the parishioners that have recently passed. My mind was off in the clouds as I was thinking about Casey when the lector read “Pray for Rob Hippie, husband of Lisa Hippe, Father of Will, Matt and Anna”. Apparently, he died in a SCUBA accident that day. I had recently gone to a concert with him. Rob’s mother and my mother were best friends, which meant that Rob and I grew up together. We did a lot, less as adults but our younger years were intense. The emotions at that moment became intense as well.
This gave me a lesson that many, or perhaps most people have already learned. Deep down, I had not learned it. Life can be precarious. None of us are invincible. All of us are in the same boat, it’s just a question of timing.
I’m a little fearful to talk about anything positive coming from the loss and emotional pain of my friends, but, it is helpful for me to think that I could have gone in an instant just like them. I sometimes find it helpful for my psyche to pretend that I actually had. For a short while, after the diagnosis, I might as well have. Unlike them, however, I get the wonderful advantage of having a period of time after my bad event as a bonus. It’s a little like the joy of putting more miles on the car that you have already more than gotten your money’s worth out of.