Goodbye, Jane: Making Sense of Unexpected Tragedy (With a Little Help from the Spice Girls)

Posted: March 27, 2015 in Life Lessons
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Thoughts on Unexpected Tragedy, Loss

Thoughts on Unexpected Tragedy, Loss

I woke up this morning. I got to think thoughts, eat breakfast, check out some blogs on my Kindle. I got to do all the normal morning shit we all have to do, like shower, get dressed, blow dry my hair.

You may be asking, why should I care that you got to complete your morning routine?

Well, you shouldn’t. But what you can care about, since you’re reading this, is that you got to do yours, too. All the little things that we do every day and, yes, often take for granted, we were here to do.

I saw a message yesterday that someone I went to college with didn’t get the chance to wake up this morning. For the sake of this blog, let’s call her Jane. I didn’t know her well, but her name brought up the immediate image of who she was in college: athletic, tall, redhead, so I knew her more than just as another face on campus. According to the poster whose message I saw, we had, along with Jane and another friend, performed a lip synch at some sort of college talent show, I’m sure, that I had totally forgotten about. We were the Spice Girls and performed Wannabe, if that proves how old we all are now. But honestly, in our heads, we feel exactly the same today as those girls who put on glittery clothes and lip-synched our little hearts out.

Now, more than 15 years after those college days, Jane had a life to plan, a family to enjoy, a baby on the way. She had thoughts about who she was, what she was looking forward to, plans.

When she left this world, all those things left with her.

The thoughts in her head, the plans she had made. The what-ifs, the if-onlys, the should have’s. For Jane, those things were a part of her living self, and they are now gone. Is this the saddest realization of death? That all the pieces of you can exist on this Earth one second, and in the next be completely erased?

Jane’s death gave me pause, because Jane is me.

She’s you, too. Even if you’re John instead of Jane.

Jane is all of us who are here right now, existing on this huge, interconnected globe. She had appointments, dates on the calender for 2015 that had meaning, recurring meetings with friends or family, shopping trips, car maintenance, have-to’s, want-to’s, shoulds. Jane’s appointments are cancelled now. Her friends and family are in shock, and when the day arrives when they are normally supposed to see Jane, they might cry, or feel numb, but they will experience the fact that this is now a life where Jane no longer exists, except in their own hearts and minds.

This is the fate that exists for all of us. We can pretend it’s not, or embrace it, or fear it. But we can’t deny it. And, like Jane, we don’t know when our story will end. It would be nice if we could get to a certain point in our lives and look around and say, “Yup, I did everything I set out to do. I have made my mark, and I’m satisfied with it. I’m ready to go now.”

But that’s not how life works. We are given the amount of time we’re given, no more, no less. We may be in the middle of important things, like raising our kids, fulfilling a life’s dream, spending time with important people.

Tweet: For many of us, when it's time to go, we're not done.For many of us, when it’s time to go, we’re not done.

But we don’t get to choose. There’s no bargain to be made, no extension. We can’t ever have just a little more time.

I hope Jane loved her life and lived happy. I hope her family and friends are able to find peace and comfort. I hope that the things that were important to Jane, and the things that were important about her, are remembered and celebrated.

And in the immortal wisdom of the Spice Girls,

If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends
Make it last forever: friendship never ends,
If you wanna be my lover, you have got to give,
Taking is too easy, but that’s the way it is…



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