I grew up in the 70′s and 80′s. Divorce was a rising, and almost liberating, phenomenon. Although my parents are still together for more years than I’m going to admit, I spent most of my adult life confirming that I would never marry, I think in part to this trend that influenced my upbringing. I enjoyed dating, traveling and freedom. The people I knew who had gotten married never made the sanctimony seem like much fun. Then, I met my husband.
Shortly after I met my Brazilian, not only did I know I loved him, but I knew that if I agreed to marry him, my life would never be boring. This has proven thus far true, but not more than the day that he dropped dead of a heart attack and returned to survive it. Nearly worse yet, for a couple of weeks the doctors were convinced he was brain damaged and would need to live in “a home” for probably a good part of his life. But he didn’t. He came out A-Okay.
Today, the sister/sister-in-law of our good friends and fellow expats in São Paulo died of cancer. She was young, certainly way too young to die, and left behind not only a husband but also an infant and a one-year-old son. Her cancer was quick in medical terms (a couple months) but for her and the family that suffered around her, it was tortuously endless.
Stories like these, especially those that hit close enough to home that I feel the need to grieve, make me look over my shoulder, anticipating that Death will be there lurking, wanting to collect what was rightfully its. Like me, this family now knows that the monster in the closet exists. The blissful ignorance of our invincibility is shattered.
I won’t ask you to mourn a woman that you don’t know, that I didn’t even know. But on what will be a sad anniversary for at least three generations of a family, I will ask you to give your child/children and/or your spouse an extra hug (maybe even in her honor). I will ask that you consider the petty fights with family or friends in a different light. To remember that what you might take for granted today could be easily be taken away from you tomorrow in an episode of instant tragedy or senseless suffering.
Those of us who put our words out into the inter-world to talk of avocados or caipirinhas might be entertaining, but we should also have, every once in awhile, a responsibility to share the real life lessons we learn. Tonight, mine is to appreciate everything you can while you have it.