The other morning while I was eating breakfast my wife was scanning the lead stories in the newspaper. She uttered an “oh no!” “What did you read?” I asked. Patrick Swayze, a favorite actor and a man that she had met on several occasions, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Then she said, “Arthur, life is so very fragile, isn’t it?” And it is. We don’t know what a day will bring—what tragedy, what loss, or what hurt.
Understanding that life is fragile means to me that we are wise to keep our relationships in good repair. How many of us wish we had been more attentive with parent, relative, friend, that we had spent quality time with them, that we had said something more, or uttered some forgiving word.
Life indeed is fragile. I had a good relationship with my younger son throughout the 39 years of his life, but there were struggles; and as I tried to be there for him, he always tried to be there for me. We were on a pattern where we talked almost every night, and one afternoon I called him to say that I would be getting home late that night and would not be able to call him. When I did arrive at home there was a message on my machine saying that he had called, that he was feeling great and doing well; we would talk in the morning. As it was, it was the last message, because he died that night. I have in my memory the last upbeat message from him.
Life is fragile, yes. We never know when we are in our last communication with someone we love.