Two decades ago, a great basketball player from East Stroudsburg High School died from prostate cancer at age 19.
A year earlier, Art Perryman had led East Stroudsburg to the Pennsylvania Class AAAA quarterfinals. But Perryman soon got sick, and he died in 1995, not even a year removed from high school.
His death stunned many in the Pocono community. I recall being shook up as I drove away from his viewing. But relatively soon I returned to my day’s tasks as if nothing had happened.
I repeat: As if nothing had happened.
Yet, back at the viewing, there were people – Perryman’s family and close friends – whose lives had changed forever.
I repeat: Lives had changed forever.
This week, a neighbor died. He was 91.
A good man. A kind man. A generous man.
At the viewing, his son said that his dad had lived a full life.
As I drove away from the viewing, soon I was focusing on my day’s tasks as if nothing had happened.
As if nothing had happened.
Yet, back at the church, there were people whose lives had changed forever.
Lives had changed forever.
It didn’t matter that this man had lived to 91.
In fact, it never matters if someone is 91 or 19. When he or she dies, the world is never the same for surviving loved ones. They have lost forever a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, a confidante, a friend.
It’s why deaths are alarm clocks for the living. Cherish the time that you have and – most importantly – treasure the time that you have with others.
Shut the lid to the laptop. Forfeit the word game on your phone. Toss the earphones into the drawer.
Break out of your cocoon.