It was three weeks ago today that the unthinkable happened.
It was three weeks ago today that the blogging world lost, in my humble opinion, one of it's brightest lights.
It was three weeks ago today that many, many people who had never actually met the man first felt the stinging loss of a good friend.
It was three weeks ago today that the United States lost not only one of its finest sons, but also one of its finest ambassadors to the rest of the world.
It was three weeks ago today that a wife lost her husband.
It was three weeks ago today that two daughters and a son lost their father.
People die every day, don't they? And it's sad of course, if and when we stop to think about it. We know that everybody has a family, that everyone is somebody's child, parent, sibling, spouse or friend.
But we don't think much about it unless and until it happens to someone we know. Then the standard words are "He was too young" or "She lived a good, long life" or, the perennial favourite, "at least he's not suffering anymore".
Capt. Carroll (Lex) Lefon, USN (Ret) was laid to rest today in Sandy Eggo, California.
And yet, there seems to be so much wrong with that statement. First of all, it's hard enough to think of Lex as even being "retired", let alone laid to rest. No, me thinks the man is still soaring in the sky somewhere, doing loops, and twists and turns (perhaps even a split S here and there), rushing up to feel the heat of the sun only to swoop over and fall earthward. And then start all over again. For the sheer joy that is in it.
If Heaven is that reward at the end of one's life, if it involves anything like eternal happiness and bliss, then I am comforted to know that Lex will be repeatedly strapping on his aircraft until the end of time.
But for those of us left behind, gravity-bound to the earth, it's been a long three weeks. A time of great sadness and longing, a time of forcing ourselves to turn our minds to family and work obligations while our chests hurt and our hearts are heavy.
The company of friends (again, generally, most whom we've never "met" in the conventional sense of the word) helps to dull a bit of the sting. We share our favourite stories and memories, often with a chuckle here and a tear there. But we know what we must do, we know that life is a gift and must be treated like the precious thing it is. Our family members, too, are gifts, we know and must be treated with the same high regard.
None of us know for certain how long we will be here. Perhaps the best we can do is enjoy each moment while we constantly cultivate our relationships, remaining open to new ones and never forgetting the lives that have truly deeply touched ours. Perhaps, with some luck, we will even do the same for another some day.
But, for now, three weeks later, it hurts. And the "missing" (whether it be in the form of the hole in the missing man formation, the empty chair at the solitary table or the hole that we know must be in the hearts of Lex's wife and children) can seem so huge, so empty, so sad. So eternal.
To Mary, Christopher, Ashley and Kate - I know chances are slim to none that you will ever read these words yet I feel compelled to share them. Your husband, your Dad touched so many lives around the world. Touched lives that I'm sure even he wasn't aware of. You know better than anyone else what kind of man he was and we can only thank you for sharing him with us. May it help you some tiny amount to even have the smallest sense of how many prayers are lifted heavenwards on your behalf.
After my Mom died a few years ago, a friend (whom, ironically enough, I never would have met but for Lex) told me that you don't get "over" these types of loss; you get *through* them. I have found her words to ring true. I still miss my Mom, some days desperately. And I know I always will. But life goes on. And on. And on. With its highs and its lows, its joys and its sorrows.
And, in my heart, I know that Lex wanted for his family what my mother wanted for hers, in her absence - in her words, not to be sad, but for us to live our lives and enjoy them.
Three weeks on ... and the world still weeps.