Sunday, April 02, 2006

Death is hard...

Today was a hard day. Actually this whole week was hard.

Young people think they are invincible or simply don't think about death because they have so much life in front of them. They are lucky. They deserve to enjoy their youth as much as they can; before they become more burdened with other realities of life.

I am no longer as young as I once was. As you get older, you are exposed more to death. While my educated philosophical perspective says that death is as natural as life, death still hurts. A lot. Especially for those of us left behind.

This past week, Ben Sumner, the 20-year-old son of a good friend of mine, hit a tree and was killed while skiing. My wife and I attended his memorial service today. It was a beautiful service full of his friends, family, and wonderful memories. He was a fantastic guy -- bright, witty, and full of life. As a parent of two growing sons, I am heartbroken over this tragic loss.

Also this past week, we lost Karen Ballantine, one of our good family friends, to cancer. She was a mother of two children just a bit younger than our own. Our families are both a part of the Minnows Mariner group at the Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church. As a part of this group we got to know each other before any of us had kids, and our families grew up together. Her memorial service will be in a few weeks.

Finally, on Saturday afternoon, we lost another good friend to cancer: Lonnie Toensfeldt. She was older with two grown daughters. She had accomplished much for hundreds, even thousands of kids through her outstanding work in the California 4-H program. She was my mentor as a 4-H leader during my adult involvement in the program. I had the good fortune to get to know her well and to share memories with her at a celebration of her life hosted by her friends last summer when we learned her cancer had taken a turn for the worse.

Life is so delicate.

These recent life passages make me appreciate more fully the short, precious time I spend with my kids, as well as with my friends, my family, and my wife. Here's to them and to all of you reading this. May all of us enjoy each others company while we have the chance. And remember the good times and friendships of those who go ahead of us.


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