Recently, two people in my life suddenly and unexpectedly died. One was a family member and the other a friend. I had unfinished business with them both.
My family member was an uncle who had been close to me as a kid. We were near each other in age, so we shared a brother-like relationship for the first part of our lives. As we got older and moved in separate directions, we grew apart. I don’t remember the last time I saw him, perhaps thirty years ago or more. Out of the blue several months ago, he left me a voice message on my cell phone. I had every intention of returning his call, but I forgot. I guess life got in the way. I occasionally thought to myself that one day I needed to get back with him. I had plenty of time, but it’s too late for that now.
My friend lived a couple of hours away from me by car. I don’t remember when we met, but he was one of my photography buddies. We made trips to regional places for photo shoots and, a couple of years ago, we took a trip with another buddy to Death Valley. My brother even joined us. It was a great trip. We visited some of the classic photo locations and made some wonderful images. I’ve included some examples with this writing. Our trip had highs and lows, but we had a blast and we intended to do it again. Recently, he was helping me with a project and he asked me to send him some documents to review. I had every intention of sending them, but I forgot. I guess life got in the way. Just last week, I thought to myself that I needed to send those documents. I had plenty of time, but it’s too late for that now.
At times like this, it’s natural to take stock of our personal situation. We attempt to define an objective inventory of our own mortality. We promise to rekindle long-dormant friendships. We commit to staying in touch. Our language is filled with clichés about these moments. Count our blessings. Live each day to its fullest. Life is precious. Take advantage of our short time. The list goes on. Be more appreciative. Be a better person.
And then we forget. Life gets in the way. Work, obligations, responsibilities, commitments, fears, anxieties, and excuses all conspire to erode our intentions. It seems that life inevitably gets in the way of living. It has happened to me before and, with my best of intentions to avoid that fate based on my uncle and my friend, it will probably happen again.
At times like this, it’s also natural to be sympathetic, but that is not my intention with this writing. My intention is to remind myself and my readers that we are lucky to be alive. Don’t forget. Life really is precious. Touché cliché.