I sat nearby going through emails as my husband was opening mail.. I looked up as I heard a large sigh escape his lips. His eyes had a glimmer, tears starting to form.
“What’s wrong?”, sitting up at full attention. We had received bad news in the mail previously and this moment took me emotionally there in a nanosecond.
“Did you know that Sammy Kent died?”, he said with a quiver in his voice.
“No, I didn’t, what happened?” I asked. My mind couldn’t help fast-tracking to Covid 19 and how we were similar in age. We had some acquaintances our age and younger die recently from the disease. It seems easy to imagine it the only path to death these days though as physician, I knew this to be far from the truth.
“I don’t know, but I will call Jamie and find out”, as he picked up the phone. Sammy had been our brokerage insurance agent for twenty-seven years and while not close, it was hard to imagine not seeing his smiling face ever again. Jamie had been our connection in the office for as long as we could remember.
I heard Scott saying how sorry he was and that he would pray for her as he sat the phone down.
Turning to me he said, “He passed out and they discovered a brain tumor and despite treatment, he declined rapidly and was gone within a week of entering hospice. It wasn’t Covid related.”
I reflected on this conversation and our prayer as I sat down to write. Unless Death has touched us personally or we work in its arena, it can be easily assumed that Covid is the only route to an early demise.
We hear of the Covid deaths and then wonder, “Were they vaccinated? Which vaccine? I wish I could get a booster. What about my children? I wonder, wonder, wonder…”
Yet Sammy’s story and other stories reveal a truth we can’t forget. Death is. And death can happen any day and in any way.
During 2020 Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death. However, heart disease at number one was nearly double that of Covid-19 and increased by 4.8%. Other causes of death that increased from 2019 to 2020 were unintentional injury (11.1%), Alzheimer disease (9.8%), and diabetes (15.4%). Overall, 3,358,314 lost their lives in the United States last year. [i]
For Sammy and countless others, they didn’t expect 2020 to be their last year. Death is. However, A Good Death can still be had. What if we were to live a good death as a lifestyle?
What if we considered the possibility that death can be on our calendar for tomorrow, and we don’t even know it? What would we do different today? Would we work harder to have more stuff? Would we fight with our spouses or just let it go? Would we pass the spectrum of beauty that God gives us in his creation on our way to where; or would we slow down for just a minute to appreciate the colors of the sunset?
I can unequivocally state that writing about death and how to have a good death has taught me more about life than life. A Good Death is not an event, it is a lifestyle. Begin today by imagining if tomorrow never came. Start living with the end in mind. It’s going to be good.
(The names in this story have been changed)
[i] Ahmad FB, Anderson RN. The Leading Causes of Death in the US for 2020. JAMA. 2021;325(18):1829–1830. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.5469