The words came out of the blue. They hurt. They hurt a lot. Like a punch to the gut, a spear to the heart... choose your cliche'.
"Rita died today."
The words reverberated through my cell phone. The call came from one of my best friends. She knew there was no easy way to tell me that one of our "sisters" had died. A woman who had been vibrant, healthy, radiant, and playful when I last saw her. What was that... just 5 days ago? Our paths crossed several times a week.. literally. Rita was a runner. So am I. We would run past each other, waving but rarely stopping, as we put one foot in front of the other. Pounding the pavement. Making our way through the pain of the run. But always with a smile.
Rita had a beautiful smile. Her light switched on somewhere deep inside of her soul and then spilled out to everyone around her. When Rita smiled, we all smiled, and we felt better about things.
Now, she's gone. Did the light go with her?
Losing someone stinks. Is it worse when the loss happens suddenly? Unexpectedly? I don't know. I only know that I wish I'd spent more time with Rita when I last saw her... what was that... just 5 days ago? We crossed paths at a favorite beach spot on "wing night." She was with her daughter, whom she adored. We hugged, kissed, and promised to be more intentional about spending time together.
You always think you have time.
So, why am I writing this? It won't bring Rita back. It won't stop the pain. It won't stop me from looking for her tomorrow morning when I'm on my run. It won't stop me from crying when I don't see her.
Maybe, though, it will do something for you...and for me. Maybe it will remind you... and me... that we don't always have time. Maybe it will remind us of how important it is to tell the people who mean the most to us.. that that they mean the most to us. That we are happy they are in our lives. That we love them. And that we need to tell them that today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.
Did the light go out when Rita died? No. She was too bright to be dimmed by death. Whether you knew her or not, her light will be reflected every time you remember what I've written... and in remembering, when you take the time to tell someone that you love that they mean the most to you. That you are happy they are in your life. And that you love them. Keep Rita's light burning. Say those words often.
Don't let them be words out of the blue.
I love you, Rita. Your friend, Drexel