Last year, a former classmate of mine was killed when he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle. He left behind a young wife and two babies. While I hadn't seen Mike in about 15 years, his death affected me in a way I didn't expect it to. I cried for days. I suddenly remembered every conversation I ever had with him. I could hear his voice, his laugh. I could remember where he sat in Mrs. Connelly's 7th grade classroom. I remember waiting for the bus together at the end of our street when we were in high school. I remember cutting the lawn and looking up to see him strolling over so he could chat with me. I once called him over to kill a beast of a spider that was terrifying me in the kitchen, and I watched as he laughed and the spider's life was extinguished with one squish of Mike's hand. I remember kissing him next to the washing machine in the basement on my 13th birthday. He was just 29 years old when he died.
Mike has visited me in my dreams frequently since he died. Sometimes he will tell me about his family. He tells me how much he loved his wife, whom I have never met. Sometimes he will tell me about his children. Sometimes he doesn't say anything at all, but he's just there. Sometimes I will dream that we are walking next to each other, and I am always sad when I wake up. I often wonder why I dream about him. Is he trying to tell me something or get a message across, or do we maybe just have holes in our hearts that our dreams try to patch up while we're sleeping? It makes me happy to think that perhaps he's not really gone, but living in the air all around us.
Death is a difficult thing, and in the last few years I have known too many lives cut short by tragic circumstances. I try to find a purpose behind each loss, but sometimes I can't. I don't always think we're meant to understand such things. What I do know is that I love and appreciate every second I have on this earth with my family and friends. We are not guaranteed a long life, and so many things are out of our control. We search for meaning in what we do and in how we live, and I have been trying to live very deliberately this year. I want to squeeze the juice out of life and soak up as much love as I can. I want to play with my baby and have more dates with my husband. I want to try new recipes and be more spontaneous. I want to plan road trips, buy cute shoes, take ridiculously long bubble baths. I'd like to see the sun rise over the ocean. I want to live purposefully.
I don't think I will ever stop thinking about Mike and I hope he continues to pop into my dreams for a visit. It's nice to see him after so much time. I'm so very sad that he died, and I think about his family and how they have to go on knowing that their hearts will never fully heal. I hope they learn to feel joy again. Death is certainly a difficult thing, but life is beautiful and amazing. No question.