When a contemporary dies …

I am 37-years old. When you’re 37, or 30, or 35, or 40, people still tell you there’s a lot of life to live; that you have many years ahead of you; etc … etc … etc. Oftentimes, this is true. But not always. Life is harsh, and the harshest reality is that people of all ages die. We get hit by cars. Planes crash. We overdose. We get sick.

I recently heard the quote, “God laughs at those who make plans,” and while I’m not convinced there even is a God, the sentiment is on point. So is the John Lennon line, “Life is what you’re doing while you’re busy making plans.” We’re always thinking about the next vacation … the next night out … the next party. But there isn’t always a next. Those who died on 9.11 had plans for 9.12. My Grandma Marta died in her sleep. The next morning she was planning on having breakfast.

I hate death. I mean, I truly hate it. The reason I stay up until 2 am most nights is because I don’t want to shut my eyes. As Willie Gault recently said to me, “I’ll have time to rest when I’m dead, so why do it while I’m living?” I feel the same way. I want to run and jump and laugh and eat and write and write and write. I love blasting Rage Against the Machine or Tupac, because it’s an instant energy boost. I love playing pickup hoops, because I can feel my heart pounding and the sweat trickling down my forehead. I love distance running because it stretches out the hours like an old pair of jeans. I want the hours stretched. And stretched. And stretched.

I’m babbling. Two days ago my beloved high school classmate, Suzanne Dolson-Fischer died of cancer. She was 37, and left behind a husband and two young daughters. I hadn’t spoken to Sue in 20 years, yet I’m crushed. She existed, now she doesn’t. How is that fair? I’m glad there’s no more pain and suffering, but I also feel as if she and her family members were robbed. Of moments. Of July 4 picnics and Christmas Eves and Sweet 16s and weddings and vacations and quiet snuggles in bed. Her daughters will never know what it’s like to have their mother proudly looking on at a school recital. They won’t learn to read from her, or talk to her about boys. There are so many beautiful things in life, and so many unfair things, too.

Suzanne apparently had a firm belief in God and the wonders He/She offers. I hope she was right; that there’s a plan for all of us.

Because this one, I can’t figure out.

Sorry to babble.

9 thoughts on “When a contemporary dies …”

  1. Jeff — I have been following your writings on her, I feel very badly for her family and also for you. It just makes me sick.

  2. I’m sorry to hear this, Jeff. BTW, don’t feel like you have to apologize for “babbling.” Not every blog post has to be perfectly structured or a Gore Vidal-like dissection… especially when something devastating like this happens.

  3. It is so sad. Great article you wrote (as always). I think of her little girls and just can’t imagine my boys not having me. RIP Suzanne.

  4. Totally feel you Jeff. My college girlfriend at Holy Cross died last year of cancer at 44…she had 6 year old triplet girls. Absolutely tragic.

  5. Jeff, a friend of mine (whom I had not seen in 3 years) was killed last week when the vehicle he was in was struck by an oncoming car – whose driver had hit two other vehicles prior to the crash and fled.

    It is very likely the driver was under the influence of something; he’s been taken out of the local hospital and put in jail.

    My friend was a social worker who dealt in substance abuse issues. The guy who killed him had known substance problems (I work w/his ex so I know of the struggles she’s been through). In other circumstances, perhaps my friend could have helped this guy.

    My friend also left a wife and three kids.

    Nothing makes much sense now.

  6. Very sad Jeff. Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. A little over a year ago my wife and I lost a dear friend to breast cancer at the age of 37. She left behind 3 children and a husband who is one of the strongest people I know. The class and bravery she exhibited during her fight (and boy did she fight) was inspirational. I am sure that I couldn’t be half as brave as she was. While I didn’t know Suzanne, I knew of her battle through Facebook as we have many friends in common and was once again in awe of her class and bravery. I was particularly moved by her message from a couple of weeks ago. I am sure she was an amazing person whose spirit touched and will continue to inspire many. Find a small amount of comfort in that my friend.

  7. Doesn’t matter if you live for 1 second or 100 years, life on this earth is too short.
    I’m of the belief that there is an afterlife, at least for some. It’s a life that never ends.
    Good news for some, not so good for others.
    After we die our friends and family find comfort when the one lost one has a belief in God. The family believes the loved one is in His hands.
    It softens the loss.

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