It was a beautiful day in the Keys today. After days of cloud cover and stormy weather, the sun came up this morning, the winds died down and the scenery became postcard-perfect for my drive down to Key West in the morning. Unfortunately, I wasn't going to work. I was going to a memorial service for a colleague's young son. And even the dazzling beauty of the sky, sun and blue water everywhere wasn't enough to lift my spirits from the terrible sadness.
It's every mother's nightmare, outliving their children. As a parent you hope and pray it never happens to you because: HOW DO YOU DEAL? How do you wake up every morning with that terrible aching void knowing your child is gone and you're still here? And while we can empathize and console others with such a terrible loss, in the back of your mind you always know: This could have been ME. This could have been MY CHILD. After all, we're all one breath away from dying. I can accept that. I see it daily at work. People that are dying, about to die, close to dying, but not quite. You expect older people to die. I can handle that. You see younger people die and it shakes you for a while. Someone close to you dies and it rattles your foundation, especially if it was unexpected. But to have to bury your child---I believe there is no greater pain, no greater loss, no greater agony.
I'm sad. I'm sad for my friend's loss. I'm sad that it made me think again of possibly being in this terrible position someday. It made me realize there are no guarantees in life, that you must live fully every day as if it was your last happy day on Earth. Because when so much is at stake, that day may come sooner than later.
Go hug your kid. Tell them you love them. Make sure they know.