Everything that is joined must separate, everything living must die. We are all journeying together to death, like an unstoppable caravan going into a strange city. What does it matter who gets there first? (The Mahabharata)
One of the most stressful and painful events in life is the death of a spouse, yet I was totally unaware of this until recently as I witnessed the experience of friends. Of course, one spouse will die before the other. We should expect this. It happened with my parents, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, everyone as far back as I know. How could I be so oblivious to it all? It never hit home.
In my parent’s retirement home in Florida, the saying was, “The lucky one dies first.”
In the great Hindu epic, The Mahabharata, the hero is on a quest and has to answer 50 puzzles to get the prize. One of them is, “What is the greatest wonder of all? The answer: “Every day death takes lives beyond counting, yet those who live think death can never come to me this day.”
I became aware when Jerry Jerome’s wife, Faith, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I had known her almost as long as I had known Jerry. That very day she was diagnosed, I noticed a tiny, frail, elderly couple in our local Lowe’s, slowly pushing one of their huge shopping carts together, side-by-side. She was wearing the bandana of a woman on chemotherapy. He was bent with age. They were going through unimaginable pain, taking care of each other and coping as best they could. That was all they could do. On any other day, I would have brushed right past them.
Faith, of course, soon died, but Jerry rose to the occasion, and caring for her in her last days was his finest hour.
Now, Nancy Musser tells me she heard Dan Powell’s wife, Dee, died. I only met her when she came to our mini-reunion in Ocean City with Dan, but she was still working, so young, so active, so alive, it is unbelievable she has gone before us. So sorry to hear it, Dan.