I'm back. I will spare you the gorey details but let's say that I had a 'hiccup' in my health. Or we could just be truthful and say that part of that hiccup had me doubled over in pain for hours on end begging God to help me and not to let me die in pain. I pretty much felt that labor was much easier than what I was experiencing. It was pretty bad.
I can't say my life flashed before me but, I remember saying I don't want to die a painful death. I want to know when death is coming. I want to be prepared. I don't want death to sneak up on me as it does in a sudden illness or a freak car accident or being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Yesterday I went to the grocery store-early. Sometimes I go to the grocery store very early in the morning to get what ever the little people need before they wake up or before I go to work. Because I felt better yesterday, I ventured out to the store to grab a few things. When it was time to check out I noticed my cashier- yes, I said my cashier, Irene's light was not on. The first thing I said to myself was, "Where is Irene?" I needed her to check me out. I looked around for her but, no Irene.
Irene is a short lady with dark hair, that's slightly feathered. Maybe she is about 60 or so. She wears gold rimmed glasses and the lenses are slightly thick- but not obnoxiously magnifyingly thick. She has a bit of an accent. Maybe Italian? Maybe from New York? I don't know. I like her because she keeps the line moving, never has a bad attitude, laughs at herself on the rare occasion that she makes a mistake and she's there early and seems like she wants to be. She is usually at register 3.
I didn't see her light on so I went to another register to check out. A woman on a scooter came up behind me and as she put her stuff up on the conveyor, I heard her say to the cashier, "I'm so sorry about Irene". I turned to the girl who was bagging my groceries and asked if Irene passed away. She then said yes. I sighed heavily as she told me that she died on Tuesday. I left the store in shock. While I was begging God not to let me die on Tuesday, Irene was dying if not already dead.
How could this happen ? She looked fine to me. She didn't appear sick or anything. Later I found out that although she looked young, she was about 10-12 years older than I thought she was. She had some heart issues during the year and on Tuesday, she had a heart attack and died. Shocked and upset I found myself crying as I drove back home. I found myself talking to God about Irene and death. I know that we all have to die but, I hate this part of "life". I absolutely hate it.
I love the promise and the joy a newborn brings, and how they develop into little people with vocabulary and personality and then grow into adults. I hate that somewhere along the time line, they die. Some die peacefully in their sleep, others brutally, and others just unexpectedly.
Why on earth God does death throw us for such a loop? Why is it that we wish we showed people how much we thought of them or appreciated them or loved them after they are gone from this earth? Why is it that we vow each time someone we know dies that we are going to be better people, love more, forgive me, and live each day like its our last? How is it that we quickly forget those vows when we slowly but surely get caught up in our own lives again? Why does death and the brevity of life catch us off guard time and time again?
Why would the news of Irene's death move me to tears? A cashier who I didn't know much about? Could it be she was just a tiny drop of normal in my life? A smiling face I liked to see at the grocery store? Could it be that I liked the small talk at the register and that she remembered me when I came in? Could it be that I considered myself her customer and sought her out to get on her line each time I came into the store? Could it be that when she told me to have a good day at work or said thank you to me that I actually believed her?
I feel foolish telling myself each time someone dies to love people more and do better, forgive quickly & live each day like its my last. For me I always seem to fail at that. Because in my heart, I feel that eventually, that voice will get softer and softer as the details of my life begin to take over again. Only for that voice to resurface again even louder when the next person dies. I will however ask myself, if I gave or with held love today. Did I give the compliment I wanted to give, did I hold my tongue when the easy thing to do was to lash out? Did I listen with my eyes? Did what I say and do today let others know how important they are to me and to our world? Did I tell others how much they bring to the table? How much I appreciate them? How beautiful they really are? Will I soon forget all of this and wait for death to catch me off guard again, and wish I did life differently with those I care about the most?
My heart goes out to Irene's family, customers and co-workers. She will be greatly missed.