From my best friend Maricar, I got the news that our college classmate, Dolly, died of cervical cancer. She was at the peak of her career as business correspondent for an international agency. She was 41.
A few years ago, another classmate, Cherie, died of leukemia. She was in her late twenties.
I have seen other "untimely" deaths as well. (Or are deaths ever "timely?") Tata, our art director; Yo, our account manager; Ronald, a dear, dear friend of the hubby; Charisse, a friend's ten-year-old daughter.
I should be used to this. But I am not. And I don't think I'll ever be. Each new loss is just as jarring, triggering a lot of whys, what ifs and how comes. Each new loss is a sobering reminder of our own mortality.
But this I also know: there is a reason and a season for everything. The pain of losing dear friends and family is cushioned somewhat by the knowledge that their mission here is done. They lived happy, meaningful lives. They touched others. They made a difference. And now, they're free to take on other roads, other journeys.
In the end, it is not the years etched on the tombstone that matters. It is the hyphen in between. The tiny mark that ultimately defines how well life was lived.