Death is a frightening, unmentionable beast.
It creeps quietly behind you your entire life, tiptoeing in your footsteps, waiting for you to screw up or get sick or get old. Death is an invisible stalker, a creep, unseen until your last earthly day, your final moment, that split-second of ‘done’ when this unforgiving brute decides to pounce on your weak heart and take you out.
But other than that, ladies and gentlemen, enjoy your day.
Sorry to talk about something so dark, so taboo, as death, but my good friend lost his wife today and I’m trying to wrap my head around it. She’d been sick for a while, he’d been prepared (whatever that means – how do you prepare for something like that?), so I guess it wasn’t really a surprise to any of us. But today, seeing the exact time of her death posted, the precise moment when the love of my friend’s life left him for good, that hit me hard, and I cried for him.
These two were that ‘in-love couple’ you see in a movie and think, this screenwriter has no idea how relationships actually work. But that’s how they were in real life, setting the love bar too high for the rest of us. Whenever I worked with my good friend at a comedy club or on a ship, he’d tell me what sweet thing his Queen (that’s what he called her – come on, screenwriter, who actually does something that lovely?) had done for him. Or he’d share what he had planned for them as soon as he got home, some romantic dinner or getaway, but he was never bragging, never exaggerating.
He was just in love.
When she first got sick, of course we all knew that she would be fine. How could she not be with so much love in her life? Then when she got sicker, when I could see in my good friend’s eyes that perhaps she was not going to recover, I prepared for his breakdown, his surrender, his anger.
But there was just more love.
Could I be so graceful, so forgiving, so at peace, if the unmentionable beast pounced on someone I truly love?
My own wife could, as we discovered the hard way.
She lost her father 2007 when he was only 55. We’d only been dating for a few years, but we were already living together and making more plans for the future. When the phone call came, her heart was broken, her whole family was devastated, and when we flew in for the ceremony, I prepared myself for the gloom and doom that I associated with death.
But there was just more love.
Her Buddhist family celebrated his life, his legacy in a glorious tribute, and they spoke and repeated his lifelong mantra so that the hundreds of people there could remember it, and remember him:
Share your song.
You see, he was a shy, lifetime artist from Texas who made intricate water-colorings, but for reasons unknown, he never felt compelled to share them. The week before he died, he had finally decided to submit one of his works to be judged at the Texas State Fair, which was his MOMA, his Louvre, but he passed on before he could make that happen.
Not if my wife could help it.
In the midst of her unbearable grief, she brought his art to Fair Park to the actual desk of the Creative Arts Judge and told him her father’s story. Though the deadline was days before, he made an exception and allowed the piece to be entered. I kid you not when I tell you what happened next:
He won a First Place Blue Ribbon.
(Come on screenwriter, that doesn’t happen in real life.)
But it did, and his song was finally shared.
To my good friend whose life just shifted dramatically, my heart goes out to you and your family as you say goodbye to your Queen, your love, and begin to carry on without her. But please know that anyone who knew you two, anyone who had the pleasure of being in your world, near your love, knows her lovely song, your shared song, and through our own lives and love we will continue to share it with the world.
Rest in Peace, your majesty.
- Mike Lukas
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