That moment when the start of a sentence is a strong indicator of how it will end.
“I am heartbroken. My mom, my biggest fan, my partner in so many adventures, the love of my life has passed away.”
Boom. There it is. She’s gone. When? How? Why? What happened? This can’t be real.
But it is. And no matter how much we prepare, even as we watch someone deteriorate in front of our eyes, it is a fact of life—it’s one we don’t want to acknowledge, accept, face, or embrace.
Yet, it is a cruel reminder of how fragile our lives are.
We are not invincible. We are not eternal. We are human beings. And we are here for a short time when we actually take a moment to reflect upon it.
No matter how impactful our life was, no matter what mark we left on this world, we will pass—and life will go on.
I tried in a clumsy way, at best, to put my feelings into words tonight. Even though I knew the day would come, and it was inevitable, I still couldn’t imagine it happening. It wasn’t that I was in denial. It wasn’t that I thought anyone could live forever. But I struggled to imagine my existence—and those close to me—moving on without this person present in our lives.
There would be no more calls. There would be no more emails. There would be no more visits. Our last visit was indeed…our last visit.
We casually say, “Appreciate today because we can’t bank on tomorrow.” But do we truly step into that thought and digest what it means?
I realize that we can’t go about our daily lives carrying this burden of doom and mortality as we go about our work, grocery shopping, raising children, caring for parents, and a plethora of other circumstances that being human dictates.
Yet, in some capacity, I beckon us to reconsider. May we not be so blasé when that thought comes to mind. May we think twice and remember that tomorrow is a gift—not a guarantee.
This woman who passed—she wasn’t just a person. She was an amazing human being.
This woman excelled in organic chemistry, but didn’t cook. Performed surgery in heels when women weren’t necessarily valued in the workplace. Told her future husband to take a hike when he questioned her techniques in the O.R. and donned vibrantly colored dresses, a wooden handbag (because it was better for the spine), and hot pink lipstick that I commend her for (she may be responsible for my obsession).
She was the first female President of the American Medical Association (AMA). She spoke out on physician-assisted suicide. She gave life. She saved lives. She was the finest example of a human being that I’ve ever known.
She and my grandmother had late-night conversations and visits into the wee hours of the morning. I recall their talks and the friendship they shared—deeper than even her children may realize.
She was the most gracious, loving, thoughtful, and generous person I’ve ever known. She led by example. She was extraordinary.
She was also the most opinionated and judgmental person I’ve ever known. If you were fighting a battle or struggling with anything, you would have wanted her in your corner. She would fight to the end. She would battle, embrace, and protect.
I recall the moment I became engaged (again) and she insisted on throwing a bash in our honor to introduce my fiancé and his family to our own extended gang.
I recall the nights when my mother was ill and I was struggling, that phone would ring. Every ounce of thought and care was there, with directions on how to proceed.
I recall the night when I was transported by ambulance from one hospital to another, my parents hearing that I may not make it. She was there, in the hospital, instructing the surgeons how to proceed.
Our lives will never be the same. There’s so much I could share, but this may be enough to paint you just the start of a picture of who this woman was.
We love you. We can’t imagine our lives without you. And you will always live on within us.
May we embody the essence of you in everything we do.