When the minor inconveniences of post grad life take a backseat to Death

We all love to joke about how “horribly” messy our lives are and the constant obstacles we face when we transition into adulthood. That’s basically all I write about.

Today is different. Today, with a heavy heart I come without complaints.

As I mentioned in my post about gratitude, it is easy to complain about all the small issues in life if, despite those minor inconveniences, life is okay. It is also just as easy to forget all the good in your life if you only focus on the bad things. But once the real challenges step into the game, complaining about the small things seems inappropriate. In that post I reminded myself to be grateful. In particular I expressed gratitude for my old, crappy Honda and my dad.

About three weeks after I wrote that, my car was stolen from outside my house. It was taken a week before my birthday at that. Despite what some might consider as a major inconvenience, I wasn’t phased. I had other things on my mind.

Twelve days after that incident my dad passed away. It was four days after my birthday and three days before father’s day. Needless to say, June was a rough month.

Today I received news of a fatal car accident that happened last night. Two young men I went to college with, aged 23 and 24, were pronounced dead at the scene. Kasean Williams-Herrera and Jeremy Shankling. They were bright, hard-working and dearly loved. They were just beginning life after college. As their families and the UC Irvine community grieve, I am left with a wake up call.

We often try to make sense of death. We do this as a coping mechanism. My dad had 50 years on this earth. I found peace knowing that although he lived with an incurable infection, he somehow managed to come back from over five brain surgeries over a 17 year timeline. I take comfort in knowing that God allowed my dad to recover time and again from those surgeries. I could have lost my dad when I was 6, when I was 12 or when I was 18, but I didn’t. I’m grateful I had him as long as I did. That is how I have made sense of his passing.

But when death comes at you without warning, it steals your breath from your lungs. It leaves you stunned and confused. The pain in your chest is so real that you feel your heart break. And in those moments, death does not seem to have a purpose. You can’t make sense of it. Why do people who have barely begun to live get taken from us? Why can’t we have them back? Why them? Why? Why? Why?

Death seems so distant, until it happens to the people you know. It feels like an insult. A personal attack. When life is disrupted by death, it is an uncomfortable reminder that nothing is promised to us. Nothing is guaranteed to us.

Leave nothing left unsaid to those in your life. If someone crosses your mind, it can be easy to brush it off. Don’t. In those instances reach out to them, just because. Appreciate and enjoy every season in your life, even the ones that are hard to get through. Express love to the people in your life and take a moment to reflect. Never be too prideful to apologize or say how you really feel. Remain open and humble. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with one another; I promise that you won’t have regrets once it’s too late. And despite all the bullshit that may be in your life, I promise you that there are still some pretty amazing things in it that are still worth your gratitude.

Breathe In. Exhale. And Smile.

Try your best to find the joy despite all the pain.

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