The last week and half has been a difficult one. The fragility of life has been thrust into our faces yet again.
Misty Yurko, my niece, was 30 years old. She struggled with Crohn's disease for about five years and had had her ups and downs with that until last November she came down with pneumonia. She went into the hospital and never came home again. For eight months she had one issue after another - times when it looked as if she would get better... times when organs would stop working, seemingly at random. Two weeks ago she seemed to be on an upswing and there was hope that she might actually recover. We had seen her in June, and while she was weak, we did have some time to laugh and smile. I hoped that the next time I saw her she would be back to herself.
Misty was doing physical therapy and things were looking good. Then, in a day she went back from the physical therapy department to a regular hospital room. The next day she was in ICU, non-responsive, and on life support. A few days later she was gone.
We always lived a distance from her so we didn't know her as well as I would have liked. She was about 6 years older than Alexis and the times we saw her during childhood, she loved playing the "big sister" to Alexis. I'm left with wondering how things might have been different... how I might have spent my time better with her. My sister is trying to figure out how to face a world without her daughter in it.
Five days ago we received word that a cousin of one of our church members was killed in Iraq. I never met Jimmy but I have heard a little about him and can guess some more. He graduated from high school in 2005 without direction and the family says he joined the military as a way of growing up. I expect that he had to know that he would end up in Iraq so there may have been some patriotism involved, some hope for adventure, even the yearning for the testosterone thrill of the battle... all of the fantasies of an 18 year old who has never seen the horrors of war. I don't have any idea what he experienced while there. Perhaps he felt he was doing something of value, perhaps not... in either case, he is gone. His family is in tatters. All of the dreams for the future are gone.
I want to be furious about his death. Jimmy is the closest that I have come to this needless war. I want to be able to hold him up as the picture of the waste this administration has caused - the waste of resources, but more importantly the waste of lives. I cannot. All I can do is feel grief, and sadness, and loss. I never knew Jimmy but he sounds like he was a great kid. I never will know him now.
In a blink, it is gone. Life is fragile. It ends with a sniper's bullet, a disease that cannot be stopped, a bridge collapsing during an afternoon commute, the long wear of years... sometimes it is long and full, sometimes far too short. Sometimes it is filled with joy, sometimes with pain, most often a mixture of the two, but it is always fragile. And it is always precious. I hope that I remember this a few months from now when the press of work and the day to day is all around. I hope that I take the time to talk with the kids in my church and neighborhood, to hug my family, to smell the flowers and watch the birds... Life is fragile... too fragile to waste on the unimportant.