I’m getting to that point in my life where death is becoming a common place thing. It’s not so much my generation as it is my parent’s generation. People our family has known since before I was born, who I remember being my age or younger are making their transitions into the next life. My parents are losing friends on a regular basis.
A few weeks ago I heard that Jean Burse was in the hospital diagnosed with a brain tumor. Eventually, I found out it was very serious. I never heard the word terminal though. This past Sunday, she made her transition. I found out on Facebook. I then found out she had “been given” 15 months to live, but it turned out to be not even that many weeks. She went fast.
Jean was one of my biggest cheerleaders. She was one of my mother’s oldest friends. We attended church together when I was a boy. She was always there to encourage me- always telling me how smart I was or how kind or how handsome. I was a shy insecure kid. I’m not sure if she knew that and that’s why she was always so supportive, but it made a real difference. She’s one of the few people outside of immediate family who has been in my life since I can remember. She never let me forget the knee socks and shorts my mother used to make me wear to church. In her 70s, she was on Facebook and we became Facebook friends. I left the religion of my youth, so I was a little nervous as to how she’d react to the new Brian, but she was always still cheering me on- never critical. On the occasions where I’d make the trip back home to Columbus and see her (often at funerals), she’d always have a word of encouragement for me. When my Aunt Betty passed, just a few months after Shayna and Ty and I were inconsolable at the funeral, Tall Jean, as she was known, put her arms around both of us and held us.
Being part of Helping Parents Heal, getting to a certain age, death is becoming more common place to me. I’m grateful for the understanding I have now that it’s a natural part of life, that it’s not final, and that those who have gone before us are the lucky ones.
I imagine Jean at Home now. I hope she’s not too disappointed in me since maybe she can see the real me now, even hear my thoughts (that’s a scary prospect). I never want to become jaded to the very real pain that death causes, the separation, the heartache, but I have to say I’m a little jealous of Jean for having completed her race. She’s crossed the finish line. Maybe she’s still cheering me on from over there.