I have been reading a daily newspaper, the hard-copy kind that lands on your porch or is placed in a plastic receptacle on the curb, for as long as I can remember. I browse through it pretty much cover to cover reading all of the headlines and many of the articles that catch my interest. The obituary section was one I simply skipped without much thought. The past few years however, I have begun to take notice that nearly every day someone not much older and sometimes not much younger than myself is listed among the deceased. Whether the cause of death is attributed to a “long” or “courageous” battle with some disease or an “unexpected” event, it reminds me of my own mortality.
Over the course of my fifty some years on earth, I have experienced the loss of loved ones both young and old. Those who have lived a rich long life and go gently into the good night have not affected me nearly as much as those who never had the chance to realized their hopes and dreams. The death of my brother Roger at the age of 24 probably had a greater impact on me than any other I have experienced. He was just eleven months older than me when a car turned left in front of him while he was riding home from the park where we both had been working that summer night. He died on the way to the hospital. He never got to finish college, marry his sweetheart, have children and all those things we sometimes take for granted.
My life changed in subtle yet important ways since his accident. I resolved to never take life for granted. To take advantage of opportunities, to explore, to travel, to experience without fear of being judged or criticized. To make people, relationships, and memories more important than processions. I am not nearly as afraid of dying as I am of failing to live life to the fullest. I appreciate every adventure and I am grateful for getting old.