Life and Death

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I’ve been thinking about death lately, which has me thinking a lot about life and I’ve been struggling with whether or not I should put these thoughts in the blog for two weeks. I’m tired of stewing about it, so here it goes.

The day Michael and I were coming home from Florida, I got a phone call from one of my colleagues at the YMCA. She wanted to let me know that our friend Stan was in the hospital. He’d been diagnosed with lung cancer and the outlook was not good. I was floored. Stan is a vibrant, outgoing, energetic health nut and a personal trainer at Walnut Creek. He’s the youngest 68 year old I’ve ever known. The type of guy who lights up a room. The kind of person it’s very hard to write about in the past tense. Stan died the morning after I got that phone call. It had just been a few weeks since he’d been to the doctor because of a persistent cough. Then he got pneumonia. Then they found the tumor in his lung. Then he was gone.
Before we left for vacation, I remember thinking “It’s weird that I haven’t seen Stan lately, I wonder where he is?” I haven’t spent much time in the weight room lately, and Stan always made a point of tracking me down to scold me. A few years ago, Michael signed up for personal training sessions. Stan beat the snot out of him. Michael couldn’t move without wincing for weeks, and Stan took a lot of pride in that. He pushed everyone around him to be better. . . to be the best they could be. It’s hard knowing that he’ll never again come bopping into the aerobics room to give me a hard time. It’s hard not having had a chance to say goodbye, and to tell him what a joy it had been getting to know him the last few years.
All of this has me thinking about priorities, and what’s really important in life. Far too often, the people we care about the most get shoved to the bottom of the “to do” list, because we’re working, because we’re volunteering, because we’re stressed out, because we’re tired, because . . . because . . . because. Stan’s death has been a reminder that none of us knows how long we have in this life. It’s causing me to rethink how I spend my time, who I spend it with, and what I spend it doing. I’m vowing to make sure that people are more of a priority, and in honor of Stan I might even start visiting the weight room again.


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