[by Nate Rollins] The first week of August, I spent in western Pennsylvania with my mom and my extended family. For the most part, it was a nice time of reconnecting and growing relationships that had been neglected for far too long. In one way, it was a blessing to be able to spend time with loved ones.
The sad thing was the event that drew us together was the passing of my stepdad. As you can imagine, I was very sad to see him go. He was a loving, caring father figure. He had been in my life for over 40 years. And though his passing was sudden and took everyone by surprise, it was not unexpected. He was 86 and had lived a full life.
So many times, during that week, I heard comments like, “It’s sad that it took this to bring us back together.” Well, that is true. These end-of-life events do bring us together. And being together makes losing a loved one at least somewhat more bearable.
The circumstances surrounding my stepdad’s passing were as close to ideal as one could hope for. A blessing really. No hospital, no pain, loved ones near him till the very end, and a fun-filled day leading up to his peaceful, final evening.
Adding to this blessing, three years ago he was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Before the doctors diagnosed what was ailing him, he was very close to death. We all thought he wouldn’t recover. But with a bit of modern technology and antibiotics, miraculously he bounced back. That was truly a gift for us. For three more years, we were able to spend many cherished moments with him. And his brush with death, in a way, helped us to prepare for what one day would be the inevitable.
My message to you, and myself, today is a reminder that the passing of a loved one is often sudden, unexpected, and tragic for those left behind. Rarely is it for us to know when it will happen. That’s why there should be some level of urgency in all of our relationships.
Would it do any harm to treat the time you spend around your family, friends, and others in your life… as if it were the last? Granted, not an easy way to be. But I believe any effort in that direction would not go unrewarded. Though I will sorely miss my stepdad, I am buoyed by the wealth of good memories we shared all the times we were together. So, I encourage you to stay connected with the folks in your life, continue to nurture each relationship, and cherish the wonderful memories that will lift your spirits even in sad times.