Dealing with Death

A Startling Reminder to Love Deeply and Live Without Regrets

There sitting in my inbox was an email I wasn’t prepared to read. At first I was excited to receive an email from my friend Connie but then I read the subject line and my excitement subsided with a flip of a switch. In the subject line was Connie’s full name along with the dates “1970-2009.” Maybe it wasn’t true I told myself. Maybe the email was about something else. There was no way Connie could be gone. I just saw her last fall and she was full of life and happy.

I opened the email and the words from Connie’s brother were a complete blur. I caught snippets of the email, “rare form of cancer,” “screams heard down the hospital hallway,” “not an aggressive cancer but a violent cancer that spread every 12 hours.” My body went numb as I sat staring at the picture of Connie attached at the bottom of the email.

Connie was one of the first friends I met when I relocated to Seattle a year and a half ago. I felt completely comfortable with Connie right away, probably because we had a lot in common. We were both vegetarians; avid yoga enthusiasts, business school graduates, and seekers of deeper meanings and truths in life.  

The last time Connie and I got together we laughed so hard tears of joy flooded our eyes. Now the laughter and tears seem inappropriate, especially considering the circumstances.

I invited Connie to attend a vegetarian singles meet-up event at a local bookstore in Seattle. When we arrived at the vegetarian singles event we were immersed in conversation, laughing about what it would be like to grow old. I remember looking around the room thinking, “For a singles event people sure seem rather somber, plus the majority of people are 20-30 years older than me.” It was just a fleeting thought since Connie and I were somewhat in our own world engaged in spirited exchanges of words.

The introductory speaker stood up and tears started streaming down his face as he spoke about the death of his teenage son. Connie and I looked at each other wondering what kind of singles meet-up event this was. The speaker regained composure and talked about the importance of openly discussing how to deal with death and dying. Since Connie and I were in a rather lighthearted mood, we found the whole situation quite amusing. Here we were looking forward to possibly meeting single male vegetarians and instead we were sitting at a “Death and Dying” event.

We ended up quietly leaving the room because the topic was much too heavy for our current happy state of existence. After exiting the room we realized the singles event was scheduled for the following week instead of this week. Looking back on the situation it seems rather foreboding, especially since Connie and I were laughing about growing old and then were hit with the speaker’s tears as he retold the events that led to the death of his son.

Connie and I continued to laugh and chat about the silliness of the night. We planned on meeting the following week but it didn’t end up working out. I exchanged an email or two with Connie but the “Death and Dying” event was the last time I actually saw Connie.

The news of Connie’s death made me think about what Connie stood for and what her life meant. To me she represented a deeply spiritual individual who loved deeply, lived in the moment, and regularly engaged in her passion for traveling around the world. What I admired most about Connie was that she seemed completely at peace with life and never seemed distracted by the trappings of the material world. She shared amusing stories of dating different types of men, traveling for her job, and figuring out what her next steps in life would be. When I last spoke to Connie she had just quit her job and was hoping to focus on exploring her passion for writing and photography.

The death of a friend, family member, or loved one makes you question life and its meaning. Connie’s death was a reminder to keep my heart open and love deeply no matter what. Her death was also a reminder that you don’t have second chances during this lifetime. You either start living the life of your dreams today or tomorrow may be too late.


One Response to “Dealing with Death”

  1. Jyotsna Says:

    hello Colleen!!

    I was moved by this post, I am sorry on your friends death.

    You never know what life would bring you the next day. Its so true what say here. A second passed is never coming back and you can’t waste time worrying about future either. “live in the moment” as your friend did is the mantra.

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