And Now, In Non-Covid-Related Death News…

It is a lovely Friday today, with summertime temperatures predicted, and my heart is heavy. Earlier this week I was made aware of two passings in my circle of connections, neither Covid-related, but each devastating in their own ways. As usual, I am presenting as outwardly stoic while at the same time barely being able to contain the whirring mass of deep emotional hurt and pain that is causing my lack of concentration at work and difficulty maintaining routines at home. In an effort to stabilize myself, I will share some stories with you of the two souls taken too soon.

A friend called me in tears the other night because she knows I’m not on Facebook. She let me know that the 25yo daughter of a family of acquaintances who used to be associated with the band was killed in a car accident. She was driving herself on a curvy road between the Willamette Valley and the coast, on her way to her job as an EMT for a fire and rescue team. As local news stories are written, it has been made clear that her car was hit by an oncoming log truck, traveling at an unsafe speed and, possibly, operated by someone who was under the influence of alcohol… At 7 o’clock in the morning. While I am not really in touch or affiliated with this family any longer and haven’t been for at least 10 years, I feel for them deeply and cannot imagine the pain of their loss. The young woman was employed in a profession serving others and had planned on going to medical school. She knew exactly who she was and what her calling was at an age where most people are floundering. This is a tremendous loss to humanity! For anyone to want to go into the medical field during/after the way people are behaving during the pandemic is a real wonder to me. They are greater people than I am. Rest in peace, Sarah. And to her family, there are no words; I am so sorry for your loss.

The other one hits a little closer to home. Earlier the same day, I got a text early in the morning from my mother, letting my sister and I know that our uncle, her brother, died. At the time, she didn’t have any further details. After some calls around to family closer to him, we heard the whole story.

While nearing the end of his overnight shift as a security guard at a gated community, one of the residents came up to the booth and asked my uncle if he could pick him up something for breakfast. A biscuit sandwich from Whataburger was the order. When the resident returned less than a half hour later, he found my uncle, collapsed in the booth and called 911. The ambulance arrived and his son and daughter-in-law were called as they live nearby. My uncle was taken to the nearest hospital, but was pronounced dead of a heart attack by the time he arrived. No one actually knows how long he had been down in the booth before he was found. Had this happened any other day, it could’ve been that he may not have been found until morning. All of this happened before 5am.

My Uncle Paul was one of the nicest guys you could ever run into. He was always jolly and had an easy laugh. We didn’t necessarily agree on a lot of life things, but I never saw him angry. We weren’t especially close mainly because we lived across the country from one another. In a past life, he used to drive long haul tanker trucks and wherever I was at the time, he would call me up if he was gonna be in my area. I would never really get more than 30 minutes notice that he’d be around, but I’d usually change plans to make time, meeting him at the nearby truck stop (somehow, I always lived within spitting distance of the best truck stops) and we would share a meal and some margaritas. He would tell me the best road stories of places he’d been, stops he made and feats of driving in inclement weather that were nearly unbelievable. And he would always have his dog with him in the truck. Of course over the years, he had many dogs, usually female and smallish; he was partial to rat terriers, the last of which was given to his friend this week who was with my uncle when she was adopted.

My uncle was only 62 years old. He leaves behind a step-daughter, a son and daughter-in-law and 7 grandchildren, as well as his brother and sister (my mom) and many extended family members and friends.

Gone too soon, I will miss you, Uncle Paul.

All of this to remind you, life is too short. Don’t let another day go by without telling the people you love how much they mean to you. You never know which conversation may be your last. Make them count.

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