Monday, April 20, 2009

Life and Death

It was a gorgeous, warm, fun-filled weekend. An author event Friday night. A bridal shower Saturday, celebrating the happiness of a beautiful, loving friend. On Sunday, an amazing Easter Cantata at church followed by a fun picnic in the park with my family. Everywhere, the trees are in bloom and it just makes my soul sing to be outside in the sun.

And yet...

Saturday afternoon, I heard the news that a beloved long-time radio DJ had lost his battle with cancer Friday night. I didn't know Les personally. I'd never met him. But his positive outlook and love of life gave me a wonderful start to my days. He was never fake on the air. Instead, always very real, and calm, no matter what was going on. As they played music Saturday afternoon, and had staff come in to join in the remembrance of him, I couldn't stop crying. He lived such a full life, and he was loved by so many. Someone called and said, Les would want us to be outside today, enjoying the blossoming trees and this beautiful Oregon weather.

And the caller was exactly right. That's what Les would have wanted. He was a huge animal lover and it was suggested that as a way to honor Les and all he did in our community (and he did A LOT, supporting and promoting so many worthwhile causes), we could take our dogs for a walk, or spend some extra cuddle time with our cats. I loved that.

That wasn't the only death that made me pause this weekend. Someone I know knew the woman who was killed by her husband in the murder suicide in Maryland. She shared the woman's blog address, and I went and read these posts from this woman, a loving wife and mother, who could have been any of us, and in an instant, so tragically gone.

And finally, last week, a note from a girl through my web site who shared with me that she lost her dad, Dr. John P. Pryer, 12/25/08. He died in Iraq from a bomb as he was walking back from Christmas mass with his friends. He was the only one who died. She talked about my book and then asked, "Have you lost anyone close?" And through that question, I was able to share some things and we had a little e-mail conversation back and forth. It meant a lot to me.

Sometimes I'm asked why my YA books thus far are about death and moving on. I think it's because no matter who we are, at some time or another, we will experience the death of a dear loved one. It's sad and it's hard, but it's as much a part of life as eating and drinking. We may not be sixteen when it happens, but it will happen. I suppose I hope that something there in my books, even if it's not something that is relevant at that moment, will stick with someone and be remembered later on.

Life is so beautiful. Hard at times, yes, but still, beautiful. And every day, precious. Our job is to remember that, and live accordingly.

That's what Les would want.
That's what Frances would want.
That's what John would want.

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