July 21st, 2003

Who Knows What A Day Will Bring Forth?


My grandpa died in 1999. He’d had heart troubles for years, and his latest round of trouble had put him in the hospital. It didn’t look good, so we headed to the hospital to see him. I remember that we were coming from Watertown, so we were going to meet Mom & Dad in Madison and ride the rest of the way together. When we met them at Dad’s work, they had just gotten the phone call that Grandpa had died.

There are an amazing amount of emotions you go through at that moment. It didn’t seem fair – we were on our way to see him! We didn’t get that last chance. And even if you’re expecting it to happen, when it does, you’re not prepared for it. You can think you know how you’ll react, but you don’t really.

You’re immediately hit with regret of every kind. “I never got to know him.” “I haven’t seen him in months.” “I never called him.” “He didn’t know I loved him.” Those who are left behind feel like they’ve been robbed of the last chance to make everything right. “If he were alive right now, I’d…”

Death reminds us of how we’ve failed the person who died. There may have been a million things we did right, but all we can think about is how much we failed.

There will always be an empty place in your heart where that person was, even if you didn’t see the person that much. Every time I think about my grandpa and about his life and about how I wouldn’t be here without him, I realize how big that hole is. Over time, of course, we shrink the hole by not focusing on it, but it can quickly grow to its full size when we look at it.

So today, do the things you never think about until it’s too late. Call some people. Write some letters. Remember people who have gone on already. Think about what kind of legacy you want to leave when you go. Do something.

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