Life can change forever in a single moment.
Over this past weekend a family friend went boating on the lake and decided to jump in for a swim. Last night, they called off the search for his body.
We often take those life changing moments for granted. Two days ago I wrote about how falling in love changed my life. As I have been digesting this news, my first thought was about how the lives of his family members have changed forever, probably none more so than the life of his son.
As I work health care, I often see people’s reaction to hearing life changing news:
“She has a malignant tumor, and we can’t operate on it”
“We are probably going to have to amputate that leg”
“That arm isn’t getting the blood flow it needs, so to save what you have we have to cut of everything below your elbow”
“You’re under arrest” (as the person is being escorted off the premises in handcuffs).
Sometimes I don’t get to overhear the conversations. Sometimes I know before the person these things are happening to know. Sometimes I get to go in and hear about how the person is taking the news. Sometimes I get to hear about how what the individual did to find him or herself in those circumstances. Still, at the end of the day, I go home, eat dinner, go to sleep to come back and do it all again. While I empathize with the pain they must feel in light of those revelations, I am obligated to maintain a professional distance. My work is to help them figure out whats next for them as life as they knew it no longer exists, and I can’t do that if I am not able to help that person start to build a bridge over his or her pain.
There is a strong possibility this family friend won’t ever get to tell his son he loves him again. A strong possibility that millions of words will be left unsaid between them. I hold out hope that he will be found, but my work experience tells me that it’s also important that I am realistic. My mother has already told me the story she will tell at his funeral, and I have already thought about how I will pay my respects in my probable absence from his memorial service.
As I write this, I am still thinking of his son. Who told him what happened? According to the coverage this incident has received, his son was numb at the time the search was called off. How will he adjust? Gone are the days when he could call and ask his dad to hold a couple of dollars. No more birthday calls, no more random dropping by or calling to say “hi”. No more family reunions or random father-son outings. Never again will he see pride shining from his father’s eyes, never again will he given a fatherly hug. Never again will either tell the other that he loves him and hear him say it.
I am thinking of this family friend, the father. I am thinking of the grandfather he will never be. I am thinking of the stories he may not yet have been able to share with his son, the family reunions he will never attend, the family elder he will never be. I am thinking of all the of the mornings to come that he won’t be able to thank Our Heavenly Father for this day.
I am thinking of all the times I meant to call someone and didn’t. I am thinking of the times I got off the phone angrily and not said “I love you” to the people I love most.. I am thinking of the trips home to see my family that I take for granted, thinking that all my loved ones will be there to spend time with me when I can get to them while I try to catch up with the friends I have missed.
I am thinking that all things happen for a reason, but for the life of me I can’t seem to think of a reason for this.
* I sat on this post for a couple of days. His body was recovered last night.
**If this isn’t coherent, blame it on my heart. I just let it flow