Five months after burying my brother, I am back in West Virginia for Dad's funeral. It's been over three weeks since Dad died of a heart attack, or lung failure, or whatever it was that ultimately killed him. During that time I was too ill from meningitis to travel. Even now I don't have much strength. But I am very happy to finally be here with Mom. We're the survivors of a terrible year.
Today I looked through old photographs, some of which I'd never seen before. Pictures of Dad when he was a kid, pictures of Dad and Mom when they were first married, pictures of Mike. Mom kept saying she couldn't believe they were both gone, how it's just not fair. Aunt Karen called from Denmark. She and my great-uncle Phillip are in their 90s and still in fine health. She said she didn't understand why they were still alive while Dad was gone, how it wasn't fair. Fair doesn't have much to do with life and death, does it?
Losing Mike and Dad and getting a serious illness, all within a nine-month period, have made me extremely grateful to be alive, grateful for my beautiful life and my family, friends, and colleagues. God willing, I'll be turning 40 in four weeks. That used to stress me out. Now I'll just feel blessed for the gift, you know? Some people, like Mike, don't make it that far. There's nothing like health problems or losing a loved one to make you appreciate your life. So if you're reading this, be thankful for what you have and for those around you. Go out and enjoy! Life may be short, but it is also rich and abundant.