I'm 31 years old, and yesterday, I just celebrated a long-time friend turning 31 as well. I love being in my 30s. I've really settled into the woman I am and stopped judging myself for not living up to the worldly norm. After having 3 children (2 of which were twins), I chose to accept my body would never be the same as it was in high school or college. What I didn't expect was my husband loving it all the more, but I digress.
When you're 31, life takes a new turn. You feel alive and excited for the blessings you have--a roof over your head, a steady job, real relationships with people you can trust (so less drama). The last thing you expect to experience is loss. Death. Of another person in their 30s. A friend.
For my Facebook friends, you already know this. A dear friend of my husband's passed away the first Friday of 2015. Dan Trick was a friendly and accepting guy. One of the first times I met him was at a CR (Celebrate Recovery) dinner. I shuffle in with a stroller carrying my twin 2yos and a 4yo at my elbow. I scan the room for an empty table, where we won't bother anyone. But Dan waves us over to his table, calling out to my husband to join their table. My face turns red I'm sure, but I sit down and avoid eye contact. (I'm still working on accepting children as messy, loud, loving creatures and not giving shame/embarrassment a foothold) Dan immediately engages me in conversation, asking about the twins and sharing stories my husband has shared with him. I am amazed how wonderful this guy is. It's not everyday my crazy family/life is accepted and welcomed (I mean when they ate that night, they made a mess). Dan didn't care. Every Monday night after, I looked forward to shaking his hand and getting a sympathetic smile from him.
And now...I won't. I didn't know Dan well. I wasn't nearly as close to him as my husband was. My husband received a Facebook message from Dan the night before he died. His family even asked my husband to conduct the memorial service (his first). But I still miss Dan. I still have moments where I'm close to tears. Loss...death...in your 30s is hard. You think you finally have the life thing figured out--family, career, bills, and other responsibilities--and then you fly into a brick wall. It hurts (it breaks things), but you eventually begin the healing process and vow to keep a better eye out.
What I'm left with now isn't a reminder to hold my loved ones close and enjoy each moment I have with them (though I do), because to be honest, I was already doing that. I'm aware of first impressions. I usually have horrible first impressions of people, but I'm working on it. Dan's impact on me was based on a first impression. He cut through my issues and accepted me as I am. That's what I'm taking away from his life. I want to be that way. I want to love and accept people beyond their issues. Life is hard. It hurts. But I want to be a star in a dark sky and bring light to the hurting and lost. Maybe even a smile to someone who's having a rough time.
Loss is hard at any age.
It's what you take away from it that can change you for the better. And bring light to our dark world.