My oldest son graduated from high school in 2005. In the last few weeks, two of his classmates have passed away. One died from blood clots in her lungs. I did not know her but feel sad for her family and friends. She was only 24.
The second classmate, Tyler Black, who died over the weekend in a single-engine plane crash on his way to Aspen, I did know. He was in the theater program with my son. He was quite thin and for one of the dance shows he was dressed up as Superman and did some hilarious dance moves. I don't even remember who else was onstage with him because he was so funny he stole the scene. My son was cast as Captain Hook in Peter Pan during his senior year. Tyler was cast as his sidekick, Smee. Tyler played this character so well. He was creepy yet endearing. He and my son made a great combination on stage. Since that time, I often saw Tyler in the audience at various performances supporting his friends.
Tyler's mother has been the choir teacher at our middle school for many years. She's taught most of my kids and was especially encouraging with one of my daughters inviting her to perform in a song competition. She's worked hard to help kids in middle school learn to sing. I cannot imagine the despair she feels at this time.
I have lost both my parents, my maternal grandparents who raised me after my parents died, my paternal grandfather, my sister-in-law, and a very close family friend. Losing a loved one is so painful. My grandmother often said that losing a child was the worst possible pain. I think that the day my mother died, part of my grandfather died with her. He said several times he wanted to jump in the coffin with her. So heartbreaking.
I am thankful for the plan of happiness and to know, really know, that life does not end with death. Though it is very painful to lose someone, death is simply a step in our eternal progression. It is this knowledge that has allowed me to go forward in mortality. I know I will see those I've loved and lost. And I know they are never very far from me.
I don't think the pain of losing someone ever fully disappears, but it isn't that sharp, stabbing pain as time goes on. I still miss those I've lost to death. And I become emotional when I speak about them, but I have faith I will be with them again someday.
Life is very fragile. We never know what will happen. Tyler had no idea that this plane trip would be his last or that his post on FB before boarding that plane would be his last. His family had no idea. We must make each day count. We must love each other. We must forgive. We must let go of anger and grudges. We must let those we love know that we love them. Every day.
We never know when it will be the last goodbye. I still remember vividly the day my father left for work and I got up to tell him goodbye, something I didn't usually do. I even ran to my bedroom window to watch his car leave the subdivision. It was the last time I saw him.
I hope that the families of these two young people will find some comfort. I hope they will feel the arms of the Lord wrapped around them as they trudge through life without their loved ones. And I hope that we will find joy with those who are yet alive. That we will take the time, especially during this season, to right any wrongs and to let those we love know that we love them because life is so very fragile.