I stood in line at a local funeral home tonight for what seemed like hours, but it was only about 45 minutes.
The deceased is a 43-year-old man who attended nursery school, elementary, middle, and high schools with my own two children, one of whom is 44, the other is 42. They all graduated from Schenectady High School. All are multi-talented, accomplished people.
The person in front of me told this young man’s parents, “There are no words at a time like this.”
Right. No words exist in the English–or any other–language to capture what these parents, who are about the same age as I am, are feeling at the loss of their talented son, a creative writer, committed husband and father, a smiling, joyous person. They said they vacillate between being in denial, sobbing uncontrollably, or experiencing disbelief.
This young man died of natural causes. At the age of 43. Far too young.
My late mother, who was the age I am now when she died, always said that people must live each day as if it were his/her last. That’s tough advice when you’re ten, twelve, years old, or a teenager. It’s even hard to believe when you’re in your twenties or thirties.
Someone else I saw at the wake for this 43-year old tonight said, “I’m trying to put myself in the place of these parents, trying to think about how they’re feeling, but I just can’t.”
Neither can I. Nor can my two adult children, who knew the young man who’s gone now, as they think about what might happen if tomorrow were to be their last day on this earth, if their children lost a parent, if their parents lost a son or daughter.
How can people who walk into a bank and are shot and die at the hands of someone with a gun prepare for their last moments on this earth? How can a nine-year-old prepare for a gunman who breaks into his or her school, with guns blazing, know that one of those bullets has his or her name on it? How do teachers even have the courage to go to school anymore?
If there were a way to prevent the UN-natural causes, shouldn’t we as a nation unite to do everything in our power to do that? And yes, it is about the guns. When there are more guns in this country than there are people, something can be done.
Live life to the fullest. Celebrate every day when you wake up. Be kind to your fellow human beings. Smile more look our for your neighbors.
Start by limiting access to guns. The ones the military use. The ones whose only purpose is to kill people.
I don’t want to go to any more wakes for young people. Especially those who don’t die of natural causes.