As if to confirm that I should, in fact, be thinking about death right now, a girl with whom I went to high school has passed away suddenly. Today. Just over a week ago, out of the blue, she started suffering seizures that seemed to be linked to a previously undetected heart arrhythmia. Her friends, family, and acquaintances took to facebook, first to seek comfort and support, and then to start grieving and bid condolences. My former classmate was 29 years old.
I wasn’t close to this classmate, though because my graduating class only had 120 people in it, I certainly knew her well enough to be saddened by the news of her devastatingly early death. As I’ve spend much of today thinking about her, I couldn’t help but to be reminded that I am desperately afraid of being permanently separated from the people that I love. At worst, I am desperately afraid of being left on the side of the living, with a big gaping hole in my life. Hole, not whole. Now it is whole, with the people I love present, healthy, and accounted for. I fear a hole, a blank space where one of the parts of my whole currently exists.
And so today, I have found myself uttering the only other prayer that I ever say, to a god that I don’t really believe in, in a fashion that belies my claims to agnosticism, in the Catholic tradition that is woven into my very core, whether or not I want it there.
“God, please keep my family healthy and safe.”