Last night I got to thinking about the sudden yet not-completely-unexpected death of Amy Winehouse. She was 27 years old and joined an inauspicious group of famous people who left this physical plane at a young age.
First, I want to note that I didn't say "she left us too soon". Amy died when she was meant to die, not a moment too soon or too late. The world may not have been ready for her to go. But that is our fail of expectation. People die. Sometimes we're ready for it, as when someone suffers from a long-term illness. Sometimes we aren't, as when someone makes a quick exit that we didn't see coming (but should have). That's life.
My grandmother died of heart failure at the young age of 69. She was a feisty woman. She embodied life. But her time was done. I don't agree with it. My mother doesn't agree with it. My father doesn't. My siblings don't. My uncle and cousins don't. She was the dearest person in the world to me and I still hear her laugh, see her smile, smell her perfume and cigarettes. I wanted her to stick around long enough to see me married and with great-grandkids for her to enjoy. But them's the breaks. Her time on this earth was over.
One of my heroes and role models, Melvin Ray Batten, died around the same age and the same time. Mr. Batten was my high school music director. He introduced me to choral music. He taught me how to sing and how to read music. He planted in a small, frail, insecure boy the seed of self confidence. He showed me that the only thing that stands between me and what I want to achieve is me. I wasn't ready for him to go. A good number of people weren't either. But it was his time.
All of that is to say this: people die. We wish they could stick around forever. But they can't. That's not the way this universe was arranged. All we can do is honor their lives, acknowledge their memories, and share their love.
At some point during my week, The Lord Bless You And Keep You will play in my head. I always wear a locket with a picture of my grandmother in it. And I have Back To Black in my iTunes library.
We best honor those we've lost by never forgetting them.