Another shift

There’s no getting around the fact that when someone dies shockingly that it sends shockwaves through you. When it’s someone who is near your age, or whom you grew up knowing and has a child your child’s age it brings on even more reflection. At least that’s what happens to me.

About a month ago I learned a former classmate passed away. It was a surprise to see her obituary and the age 37 next to it. My cousin passed away what will be five years in May, at the age of 37. That number is where I’ll be in a few short months this summer. It concerned me back then that I would come upon that same age and now here I am.

I remember my mom always explaining to me the feelings she had leading up to and past her parent’s young ages that they passed away and living beyond their years. I’ve talked with friends about how they experience similar feelings as they come upon ages of close relatives who’ve passed away at their age. When my cousin passed away I was struck hard. She was someone I truly looked up to and then she was just gone, at 37. I thought about my own Monkey at the time, and how her children may be feeling in the wake of it all.

This week another family friend passed away suddenly. He was a friendly guy, full of energy, and a nephew of my “second mom” Mar. He grew up down the street, and was around my brother’s age. I’ll never forget going to see him play in beach volleyball tournaments with her and meeting his little boy who is just a little older than Monkey. His son and Monkey used to play together at Mar’s house often because she would watch them both when needed.

As this last fall when I had my own brush with death and how quickly it can come, I was reminded to not take my time here for granted. Spend it in joy, bring others joy, and be around people who bring joy.

A few years ago I started to be more selfish with my time; being more aware of where I chose to spend it and with whom. I feel ever more reminded to spend time with those who bring joy to my life, and who I enjoy bringing joy to; while stepping away from any who don’t. Life is short. glaringly so. Even in old age, there is always more left to do.

In Buddhism, life is suffering:

The Four Noble Truths comprise the essence of Buddha’s teachings, though they leave much left unexplained. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. More simply put, suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end; and it has a cause to bring about its end. (

This winter, I realized the suffering I’ve gone through has always led me to a stronger inner being and in a new direction. Moving towards enlightenment and shaping how I cope with new suffering in my life. Frugality lends itself well to the practices above, as we move away from greed and desire, we move away from suffering.

Each time I go through a deep period of suffering (grief, financial setbacks, or health problems) I now know there is much to be learned and a great journey on the other side. Maybe it’s age. Maybe it’s maturity. Maybe it’s life experiences. I’m always learning and growing. I’ve become such a better person than I was a decade or more ago.

Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now came into my life at just the right time a few weeks ago. The present. It’s all we have. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. February is a short month, but I’ve got big plans for my well being this month with lots of support and love from my best friend, Liz, as well as my husband. We’ll see where the road ahead leads…

Rest in peace, your light will continue to shine brightly in his world.

8 thoughts on “Another shift

  1. i’m sorry you lost your friend, kate. the same thing happened to me a couple of years ago when my close friend died at my same age and never even called to say he was sick. i guess he didn’t want to “bother” anyone but i would have liked to have said goodbye. you’re right about being present now as tomorrow isn’t promised even with all the preparations in the world. i hope you and the family are well.

  2. Your story touches me. Just last night a friend in our drum group shared that her best friend from childhood was on her deathbed right now, with pancreatic cancer in her late 40s. My husband and I don’t know this person and yet, it shakes us into the reality of our short lives. I read “The Power of Now” about 10 years ago and it really helped me slow down and be more in the present. That is a message that I need to hear again. I appreciate you sharing this and hope you will have a wonderful day.

  3. I’m 48 and experiencing what you are experiencing more and more now, except the slightly older I get, the less “shocked” in a way people seem to be, which adds a layer of, “geez are we THAT old” to the mixture. It’s always so weird when this happens. A sorority sister of mine died in her sleep the day before her 49th birthday. I looked at her facebook page an the day before she had posted that she was super excited about a tv episode of show she liked was airing. It’s an odd feeling because you’re right, one day it could all be gone. That sounds morbid, but at the same time enlightening because it empowers us to make today count! I’m sorry for your losses. 😦

  4. A best friend died in a company plane crash and my wife’s brother was killed when his horse fell while they were herding cattle years ago when they were each 40 and within weeks of each other. In the same time period our 18 year old nephew was killed in a car accident. It hit hard to see so many people taken long before anyone would have anticipated. Now I’m at the age where I routinely see people younger than me die but it strikes with a special power at your age, as you have felt. You’ve used the pain to grow because that’s the kind of person you are. I’m sorry for your loss and grateful for your sharing.

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience Tonya. It is such an odd feeling, especially as we age. I had a cousin who was the same age as me die at 16 in a car crash, and I think back then I processed it far differently than I do now. It is morbid, but it is what we all face. I’m glad we can find some enlightenment in it all 🙂

  6. Wow. What a coincidence at the same age and same time. I’m sorry you lost everyone in a short period, I had that experience as well as a teenager with several family deaths one after another for years on end. I had lost people my own age as a youngster, but it’s a weird process after you become a parent and realize your own mortality!

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