I’m writing this from a place 868 miles away from home. I’m in Tucson at my Mom’s house, and I’m here because my stepdad Tony passed away four days ago on a trip to visit his sons in Australia.
We think it was quick. We hope it was. He went to sleep, and in the morning he was gone.
We forget how mortal we are. We get caught up in the day-to-day details of our lives, and forget the big picture. We forget how our time on this mortal plane could end at any time.
When we were young, we thought we were immortal – that death couldn’t lay a hand on us. We took risks and flew too close to the sun, and usually we came through it whole and alive.
But sometimes death catches us, or catches us unawares.
Tony lived a good life. Born in the UK at the start of World War Two, he fell in love with the heroes of the war and their Spitfire planes. In later years, living with my Mom, he would buy miniature versions of those and other planes and fly them with friends out in the desert.
He was a good husband and churchgoer. He loved the Arizona desert and their two dogs, Jake and Paris.
Once, when I had to set a story in the UK, he read it and helped me get all the details right, even though it was a gay romance, and Tony was anything but.
Tony was a whole universe inside a human being, and now that universe is lost to us together. There are so many things I will never know about him.
Love the people in your life. Spend time with them. Hold them close and learn everything you can about them.
You never know when they will be gone.