Tag Archives: death

Silent Radio Day

I spent most of my day with a dead radio. Not because it was stolen like in the song, but I’ll get to why I couldn’t use the radio in a minute.  Driving in silence allowed me time to think about the crazy day I was involved in, and also some of the more abstract aspects of this life (just like the song). Warning, this blog post will be all over the place and take some time… just like life.

First, let’s begin with how the day ended. Besides me writing about it, the girls stayed up a little later than normal so they could play Super Soccer with their oldest brother because he was heading back to college tomorrow.

The living room was filled with laughter, and outbursts of “Kick it!, Kick it, NOW!” Both games went to a shootout, and big brother lost both games. His sisters were excited.

I sat with my youngest daughter in the kitchen as they played.  We had snack and played Would You Rather. I was asked if I would rather die by drowning or be killed by a giraffe. It was a rough game, but we added to the laughter.

I soaked up the moment and felt grateful for our home.  The day did not start so smoothly.

My wife had an early, 6:15 a.m., appointment for a few medical procedures. I took the day off because she would be put under anesthesia for the procedures. We were ready to head to the surgery center at 5:45. My son was going to handle dropping off everyone at school, then he would go to work. I would be able to pick up my four daughters from school at the end of the day.

I go to start the van to warm it up… van is dead. No lights on the dashboard when I turn the key… nothing. 

I grab the keys to my son’s car and take my wife to the surgery center. I drop her off to head back to the house. I have enough time to try to jump the van before the girls need to get to school. 

Did I mention it was only like 4 degrees outside this morning?

I get the jumper cables attached, start my son’s car and let it charge for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes… nothing. The van is still dead. I unhook the cables, it’s time to get the girls to school. I take them. There isn’t room for my son, so he stays home. I’ll be back to get him to work on time.

By this time, I am consciously making sure I keep my frustration under control. It’s not that I can’t feel frustrated, but I can’t let the frustration take over to cause the morning routine to be filled with negativity from me. The girls are already worried about mom, their schedule has changed, and they understand that dad is improvising because the van is dead.

I finally got back to the hospital. My wife was in the surgery room. The receptionist explains to me how the TV board will keep me updated. I watch as my wife’s patient number changes color (each color is a different step in the procedure). After a while, I was escorted back to the recovery room. Everything went well and we headed home.

I decided to try jumping the van one more time. It’s not as cold, I am not hurried, and there is more light. I make sure I get a good connection on both batteries (which isn’t easy to do with new cars, there are so many things connected to the terminals). Success, the van starts after 5 minutes.

Here is where I spend time with no radio. We have an XM radio. When the battery dies or is changed, you have to enter a code to use any part of the radio, even to play a CD. (Which we do have, the van is about 8 years old). We have the code written down, which I would find later. One of my daughters would get the honor of activating the radio! But that is later in the day after I pick them up from school.

As I run errands, I am alone with my thoughts. And my thoughts got deep when I learn about the death of someone.

We have been in the market for a new car, but it is hard to find a car that matches our needs and our price range. We had been working with a sales person Dewayne for a few months. He helped us when we replaced a car that hit a deer. I had last spoken to him in person in August about our car situation and what inventory the dealership was expecting. As you do with people, we talked about personal things. He let me know he would be taking some time off because he was having heart surgery to clear a blockage in an artery, but I should contact him in December. 

Well, I didn’t call in December. I called today. The receptionist was taken aback when I asked for Dewayne. She informed me that Dewayne had passed away the first day he was home from the surgery.

The first day home.

Dewayne was not a close friend, yet our lives intersected. And was supposed to continue to intersect. He was helping me find a vehicle. We had shared stories and talked about how the pandemic was causing havoc in all different aspects of life. Dewayne had a wife and kids. He had a big laugh. 

It’s a cliche, not to take life for granted. But honestly, maybe it should become our code to live our life by. What would we change if we treated today like the only day we have? No matter if it starts out with a dead battery, or your coffee order getting mixed up (yeah, that happened too). How would we treat people? How would we treat the people we love if today was the last day we would see them?

When you read this, it will be today. And today is the only day that matters, so decide how you will live it.

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All The Ways We Die

Yesterday, the family attended a family funeral. My wife’s uncle passed away last week from a number of health issues. He was 81 years old. His first great grandchild was there. She is 4 months old. However,  his daughter was not at the funeral because she lost her battle with cancer earlier this year.

Now, stay with me here, this is going to get sad for a little while. I started to think about all the funerals I have attended. Thought about all the people I had lost in my life, and how each person’s death was different.

During her freshman year, a former student was killed by a drunk driver.

My friend and former principal suffered a fatal heart attack.

As I listened to the service, I pondered how fragile life is. We all know that death is part of our lives. We do not know how we will die. We do not know the day. But we know death is part of the deal.

I started to reflect on the state of our culture, on the state of our world, and I wondered how we ever let life get to this point. I couldn’t wrap my heart around what is happening in our world.

“Love is the only rational act.” Morrie Schwarts

Only the family attended the burial ceremony. I held my wife’s hand. My four daughters and second son stood around us. Family.

Life is fragile. Love is strong. The world may fall apart but love will stand and rebuild when needed.

I know I will die. I don’t know when. I don’t know how. Could be any number of ways. What I do know is that today I can love, and that makes sense to me.

 

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From point A to point B

We are always traveling from point A to point B.

We were born: point A.

We will die: point B.

This is the most important vector we travel. A vector is defined as a quantity that has magnitude and direction. Usually represented with an arrow. Our life is an arrow from point A to point B. It happens one day at a time. Many of us do not know where or when we will arrive at point B.  But I will come back around to this.

Our life is filled with other vectors, other paths from point A to point B. Some of them are defined clearly, like graduating high school or college. Other paths have a point B that is difficult to know. Every relationship we are involved in has an unknown point B. Many times our goals or dreams have an uncertain point B. These vectors are intertwined into our daily life. Time is a constant for us… in a sense, the direction.

But a vector also reveals the magnitude of the movement. The power or effort we use to travel toward point B. Or my favorite definition of magnitude from astronomy; the brightness of a celestial body seen by the naked eye.

Our life is a vector. We were born (point A) and we will die (point B). Time is constant for all of us along this path. True, many of us do not know when we will reach point B, but we are in control of the magnitude of our path.  We are in control of how much effort we put into a goal, into a relationship.

We are in control of how bright we live.

 

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The Dash

I was doing some digital cleaning of my files when I came across the rough draft of an old blog post. Due to job changes, most of my original posts are lost or in rough draft form. This post was not in the usual folder I keep for my writing so I was surprised to find it. It was written December, 1, 2010. I have made some small edits, but decided to post it as is. I hope you enjoy, “The Dash”.


Yesterday my wife and I attended the funeral of a family member on my wife’s side.  We also went to the burial site ceremony. As the preacher talked, I could not help but to gaze at the headstone by my feet.  The person was born in 1905 and died in 1988. Eighty-three years of life. Now; two dates and the dash between (Yes, I know the poem “The Dash”).  I walked around after the services to look at other headstones. Some were so weatherworn that I couldn’t read the names, others had rings interconnected with wedding dates, and newer headstones had no death date.  Waiting for the occupant to die so that the death equation could be filled in:  Birth – Dash – Death.

It has been a hard 2010 for me.  I have had friends move away, coaching positions removed from me, a handful of students who simply do not care but thought it was my fault for their educational experience.

I have had some great moments in 2010.  Coaching a junior high girls basketball team that is simply talented.  Receiving awards and opportunities to speak or present at conferences. Taking seven athletes to state track.  Getting the opportunity to build a home. The continuing experience called Fatherhood.

2010 will be remembered on my headstone as a dash.

A dash.  That’s it.

Life will go on without me when I complete my own death equation.  Steve Jobs discusses this in his Stanford Speech: “…almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Pearl Jam also expresses this idea in a simple line from their song “I am Mine”

I know I was born and I know that I’ll die
The in between is mine

But do we?

Do I?

Have I synthesized this information (reading strategy, I know. I am an English teacher)? Have I spent too much time in a bad mood?  Have I spent too much time waiting for tomorrow to be better? Am I where I am needed and wanted?

Are you?

I have been shown this year, in different ways, that life goes on without me. At the funeral service, the message was centered on the idea that our lives are our sermon to the world.  My life, my sermon, will be a dash on a headstone, but I hope it is felt in the hearts of my family and friends.

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Death

I cried today because of an email delivery failure.

I sent a group message about a guest blog post I wrote. I received the basic message for when an email account is no longer active.
MailMessage

The account was for my good friend Graci. I attended her funeral last Wednesday. She passed away from cancer. She would like the  blog post I wrote.

This post is not going to repeat the cliche that we should live like everyday could be our last. This isn’t about making sure we tell the people we care the most about that we love them. These things are true. We know it. What we forget is how permanent Death is.

I will never again text Graci to have a good day. There will no longer be crazy life conversations in her office. She will not read this blog post. Death is permanent. That is why it is so hard to deal with. Graci’s funeral was filled with family and friends. She lived out her faith. She made people feel loved everyday. The service helped us celebrate her life, but death is permanent. Death removes all possibilities. That is what hurts. The lost chance to live like today was our last day.

 

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