“Get Well Soon.”
Written in carefully scripted cursive at the center of a red paper heart, the words “Get Well Soon” are forever resting within the soft, silk bedding of a coffin.
The emotional turmoil I felt during my uncle’s funeral is most greatly expressed in Dr. Parker’s quote, “We ought to make every moment count because it may be the last.” For months cancer had ravaged the formerly cheerful church pianist, a man of god and faith, dying from what I was told to be an incurable ailment. As a child, ignorant of the state or status of his condition, I thought I would send him the sort of caring, heart-warming gift that can heal wounds, cure diseases: a handmade card. It wasn’t until I was about to send it, a couple weeks later, that I found out he had passed days prior.
It was my uncle’s death that made me question the nature of existence, made me question the purpose of life and the presence of God, an entity who would apparently endow such pain upon one of his most loyal of followers. I would come to look upon the expressionless face of a great man and cry for his lost smiles, cry for my lost innocence, and cry for the loss of my positive state of mind.
I hadn’t gotten to say goodbye, hadn’t been prepared for his passing on to who knew what lay beyond the veil of eternal sleep. I had created a card, a belief that he would recover from his ailments, only to give it to him at a time when he would never “Get Well”. Even as I write this, I can’t help but think, if only I’d sent him the card a few days sooner, if only it hadn’t said “Get Well Soon”, something that I know now was never going to happen, then maybe I wouldn’t be so haunted by his death.
It was with that card, that funeral, that I realized the true wisdom of Dr. Parker’s quote. In life there are an infinite amount of possibilities. In several of them, I’m sure my uncle could have recovered. In several more, I’m sure my card would have reached him in time to give him happiness in his last moments. Since anything can happen, any random combination of possibilities can change the fabric of our lives at any given moment, it is important to live in the present. Life is too short and too unpredictable to remain patient and unengaged. You only live once; might as well live, dance, eat, sing, enjoy your existence as if your moments are limited (which they are).
I do look back and wish I had taken advantage of the time I had to say a final “I love you” before the cancer took my uncle. I do wish that I hadn’t wasted time as if his days weren’t numbered. I now understand that death can take anyone at any time, so I should take advantage of the seconds I have left before the unknown possibilities take my family, my friends, and me from this Earth forever.