In the past 26 days, I’ve witnessed two of my girlfriends bear the burden of burying their husbands.
It’s Just. Not. Fair.
I try and teach my children not to say that phrase because I hate the way it sounds, but today those are the only words I can possibly use to describe what my eyes have seen and what my heart has felt.
These moms, these families, these friends of mine, had plans.
This weekend Katie and Bert had plans. They had parties to go to, errands to run, hamburgers to buy, arguments to have, and normal, everyday boring stuff to check off their laundry list of things to do. But this Sunday, unlike last Sunday, Katie and Bert won’t be doing those things. Because Katie will be sitting in the front row at Bert’s funeral.
Just like three weeks ago, when my friend Charity was sitting in the front row at Drew’s funeral after watching her husband—her best friend—take his last breath just days before. Charity and I were college classmates, going through life at the same pace with the same plans. We were both lucky enough to meet the loves of our lives at James Madison University and now her love is gone, taken from her and her beautiful children unfathomably too soon.
Charity and Drew had plans. They wanted to go back to Disney World in the hot, exhausting heat. They wanted to dance at their daughters’ weddings. They wanted to take their girls back to a JMU game and tailgate with all their friends.
They had boring plans, too. They had plans to run errands. They had plans to go to bed early. They had plans to go to Costco.
Katie and Charity. Both moms. Both widows before their 40th birthday. Both sitting in the front row at their husband’s funeral, each holding the hands of two beautiful children.
Katie and Charity shouldn’t be sitting at funerals. That wasn’t the plan. They should be sitting at soccer matches. Boring, run-of-the-mill, “I wish I were anywhere but here” soccer matches.
Drew and Bert were both handsome. They were both the life of the party. They were the guys everyone wanted to be friends with. Both men had brain tumors. Both were 37 years old.
Charity had seven years of notice. Seven years of highs and lows, good news and devastating news, and treatment after treatment after treatment.
Katie had one day. On Monday Bert was fine. On Tuesday he went to the doctor complaining of a headache and was told he had a brain tumor. On Wednesday he died during surgery.
Just think about that for a second.
Last Sunday Katie’s life was business as usual. She was busy managing a family with two kids and two working parents. And this Sunday, instead of checking things off her to-do list and fulfilling their best-laid plans, Katie will be sitting in the front row at her husband’s funeral.
Just replace Katie with Katherine or Karen or Christine. It could have happened to any of us. One Sunday, life is normal and frustrating and exhausting and the next Sunday those adjectives take on a world of different meaning.
- We treat life as mundane.
- We go through the motions.
- We plot and plan things on the calendar.
But just stop and think, for one second, about the very real possibility that exactly one week from today you could be sitting in the front row at the funeral of the very person you love most in the world.
That’s how fast it can happen.
Think about that. And then go change your weekend plans accordingly.