Friday, November 17, 2006

On death and dying

I attended a colleague's funeral this week. He was my age - only 47 - definitely too young to die. I sat quietly through the Catholic service at St. Mary's. Though not Catholic, I love their services. I find them interesting. I always feel peace in there. The singing (? not sure if it is called singing or chanting) is kind of haunting but a good haunting - I love it.

Nick was one of my first friends at the newspaper. He always waved when I saw him outside or he would stop by my desk on his way in, to see how I was. I remember he always had a smile for everyone. Sometimes we would chat for a minute before he would continue on to his own desk on the other side of the building.

I could not stop thinking of how young he was. One should not die at that age. But I guess it should not surprise me. I mean, I have lost many loved ones at young ages. My father was only 56 when he died. My oldest brother was 53. Nothing is certain....

At the graveside, I glanced around. Finally we had a cooler day. The leaves had started turning and were falling off the trees. This may sound strange, but it was a perfect funeral day. When I die, I want it to be fall -- it is my favorite time of the year and just seems right for a funeral. I would be more perfect if it rained. I love rain and there is something about standing at a graveside under black umbrellas seems right. Not that I want everything to be gloomy, that is so not it. It is just that I love fall and I love rain - so why would I not want that? (But then again, I love cemeteries, especially old ones or foreign ones - like Pere Lachaise in Paris - I can literally spend hours there.)

Sadly, Nick's passing has really brought Albert to mind lately. Albert was actually my brother-in-law but I was so close to him. I loved him dearly and my children adored him. He lived with us off and on through the years and thought the world of my kids. Albert was a free-spirit type of guy. He kind of came and went. He was an artist and died while photographing the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge a couple of years ago. He loved photographing it and painting it. A huge wave came out of nowhere and knocked him off a rock, camera and all.

I still remember the screams from my children when he died. I think that scene will haunt me forever. Marisa still cries for him. But he left behind some awesome work. I have several windows painted by Albert in my home. For Jennifer, he painted "Winnie The Pooh" on her bedroom window (she was only 3 at the time) and for Catherine, "Hello Kitty." Marisa picked Brian, who she was crazy about at the time - from the Back Street Boys. Brian is wearing a cap with Marisa's name on it. Those paintings are precious to me. For my window, I just asked for a vine, small yellow flowers and small birds - which he did for me. And since I love cats, he put a small kitty on one window. But my front two windows have Christmas paintings on them -- a snowman on one and Bambi on the other. I can still see Albert's handiwork here and at several businesses in Porterville -- he designed and painted several signs. But he was mainly known for his Christmas windows around town during the holidays - he did everything in 3D. Amazing stuff.

Anyway, when Nick died, I started thinking of Albert. Albert was only 45 when he died - like Nick, way too young. I especially miss Albert during the holidays, because he would always come stay with us during that time. I know this holiday season will be really hard for Nick's family -- I guess there is no such thing as a good time to die...


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your friend, Esther, and I understand about funerals bringing thoughts of other loved ones who have passed on.
    I hope you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving. :)

  2. Thank you, Jeff. The holidays are especially hard times to lose a loved one.
    And a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well.

  3. So sorry for your loss.

    I know what you mean about the chamber music. The beautiful haunting. I think it does it's job well.