I question God a lot. I find myself asking why this and that loss happens, often. Perhaps because I’ve had more than my share of excuses to do so. Loss seems to be constant in my life as of late, and yesterday was no different. Yesterday I learned Matt died.
It’s funny how we all just assume that we’re immortal. Not to say that we don’t believe the end will ever come, but rather make choices as if we have plenty of time left to get to things or people. I know this. I’ve had many an occasion to nurse regrets because I waited too long. Still, I did it again. Yesterday as I sat at my computer reading the obituaries in the online local paper, I realized that I’d let time and opportunity escape me again. In front of me was a picture of the wonderful man I knew, loved, and had called my friend. A man I thought was busy living his life much the same way I was living mine, and one I believed would still be there when I got around to calling him. A man I learned was now gone. Shock is not even an appropriate word for my first reaction. Sadness definitely fit my second.
The loss of a person is hard enough in itself. Even those that leave misery in their footsteps will be missed by someone. It seems truly unjust though and difficult to comprehend when it’s someone like him. Matt with his mischievous, dark eyes under heavy brows that made his grin look comically sinister. Matt who was the definition of a gentleman in every sense of the word. Matt who had a kind heart, a gentle nature, and generously gave of himself without being asked. Matt who loved life and tried to enjoy it to the fullest. Matt, who was 44 years old when he passed away Friday in his sleep of heart failure.
I left behind a lot of people after getting my DUI. People in the big city where I’d grown up, lived and worked for forty one years before moving to the country, who some I had the good fortune of seeing nearly every day when I was tending bar. Not being one to inconvenience another, I had difficulty asking any one of these friends to make the hour drive to the country just to pick me up for the day, let alone go out for an evening. My hesitance at asking for a hand-up proved to be my undoing. Soon it seemed all those I had once been so close to had just moved on without me. Not their fault. I’ve never blamed them. They had an opportunity to be a part of things, where I had not, and chose to. Matt was one of those people. He had family, friends, a job, a life, and eventually as I withdrew more into myself the calls to him became more infrequent and we’d just stopped talking. But I knew eventually when I got my license back I would make that call to him, and the friendship would be the same as if there’d never been an interruption in it. Why should I have thought otherwise? He was my good buddy, and for all intents and purposes immortal.
Sadly, he was not immortal, none of us are, and passed away quite unexpectedly. And although I have no illusions that I might’ve been a person in his life he missed terribly or fretted over not being able to see, his passing hurt just the same and I am filled with regret that I missed out on spending time with him in what would be the last few years of his brief life.
Shock, sadness, guilt; all emotions I’m too familiar with. These are ones that can and have, completely emotionally derailed me in the past. Yesterday it didn’t. I suppose that’s the greatest sign of all that I’m doing better and in some form of recovery. I had a very healthy cry, made the call to extend my condolences to family and friends, signed the guest book on the online obituary, and went back to housework. Why? Because his life stopped and mine hasn’t. Their lives (my parents, brother, many friends, and my beloved pets I lost last year) have stopped, and mine hasn’t.
I do question God’s choices often, and perhaps shouldn’t. It’s only because I fail to see what good can come from taking this wonderful man who appeared to have so many more years of life left ahead of him away from a daughter, family and friends, who loved him dearly; because I fail to see what good could come from any of life’s losses I’ve suffered, as each appeared to have so much more left to contribute. But especially because my life, once again, has been spared. A life, sadly, I never felt had much purpose. The question Why them and not me? has often left me perplexed.
Today I am acutely aware of my surroundings…my life. I sit here in bed keying this post on my laptop, nursing a bad back after yesterday’s episode of grief-induced cleaning, and drinking my morning coffee. The weather has begun to turn again, there is a cloud cover and a gentle breeze fills my room, while the distinct sound of rustling branches outside my window can be heard. I listen for a whisper in the wind that tells me he knows I’m thinking of him.
Today they bury Matt. It is a funeral I won’t be attending. The family had chose to wait many days for the autopsy results before posting the obituary, as they knew many people would have questions and wanted to be able to provide them with answers, which unfortunately never gave me enough time to make arrangements so that I could attend. No one was able to reach me prior to the obituary because my number had been changed and I hadn’t felt it necessary to update anyone. My depression and reclusiveness cost me my final goodbyes to him, but has been a reminder of what and who is important to me and that these things and people are far too precious to be ignored. In understanding that I realize that perhaps Gods choices aren’t that questionable after all. Perhaps one door has to close before another can be opened. One life has to end to remind another to begin.