By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

This blog was supposed to be about Santa Fe.  I had planned a trip there last weekend to attend a birthday bash for one of my closest friends.  I planned to eat a lot, drink too much and soak in the sites.  I planned to roast her with a birthday tribute and re-connect with old friends.  Those were my plans.  But on the Tuesday prior to the event the honoree’s 45 year-old daughter died of a pulmonary embolism. Suddenly, our plans changed.  Instead of flying off for a fun, celebratory weekend in Santa Fe, we were boarding a plane to Chicago to attend funeral services.  Oh, how quickly our lives can change.

As we reach “senior status” it becomes more common to experience loss.  In the last five years both my brother and I have lost our mother and our childhood best friend.  Numerous friends have lost spouses or are supporting them through life-changing illnesses.  Somehow we expect to encounter these events as we grow older.  But losing a 45 year-old, in the prime of her life, happily married and with a 12 year-old daughter just seems so wrong.  It is wrong.   And it is a good reminder that tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us.

That notion was hammered home to me many years ago when a friend lost her husband to cancer at an early age.  After his diagnosis she lamented, “I think about all the hours I stayed at the office doing busy work when I could have gone home.  I wish I had those hours back.”  Her sincere regret about her prioritization had a profound affect on me.  After that I never spent more time at work than I needed to.  I resisted the “how late did you work last night?” competition that seemed to pervade every workplace.  I had seen first-hand the downside of that game.  It was a good – if painful – lesson on making sure those around us know how important they are.  It’s why, as sappy as it sounds, I never leave the house without telling my husband that I love him and I end each day by telling Dash the Wonder Dog how much I appreciate all that he does for us.  Dogs don’t live nearly as long as they should.  But then again, neither do some very good people.

My friend’s life is forever changed and those who care about their family are also struggling to make some sense of it.  I think most people when faced with these horrible events take some stock.  It’s a good reminder that we can’t take anything for granted.  All of our checklists, day planners and to-do lists can be just wishful thinking.  And it’s a wake-up call (at least for me) on how we spend time.  It’s too easy to get sucked into surfing the internet on the iPad or watching dog videos.  It’s also worth remembering that not all things – or all people – are worth our time.  We need to make each day count, spent with people and activities than enrich, rather than detract.  For me the only small way that I can think of to pay tribute to a life lost too soon is to cherish every day I’m given and live it to the fullest.

Rest in peace, dear Staci D’Ancona Levy.


21 comments on “WE PLAN, GOD LAUGHS

  1. So true! going to a friend’s father funeral tomorrow. At least he had a nice long life until Alheimzer’s took his mind away. I feel since I have moved back to my hometown, I have been to way too many funerals. It has only been 29 months back. I say life is too short now at our age if it is not fun or meaningful, I don’t want to do it.
    Love, Sharon

  2. Hi Suzanne
    Your blog was forwarded on to me and I particularly enjoyed it because I too write a blog with such similar universal themes!
    I thought you might enjoy reading mine @
    I have this fantasy of compiling them into a book. Oh to be Nora Ephron ( about whom I wrote a blog!).
    But at any rate it was very enjoyable reading your words.

  3. So well spoken from the heart! I have passed this along to my family and friends. I am going to print this out and keep it by my desk. Life has a way of getting away from us and I want to think about these words often. Rachel

  4. Suzanne, so well written and we certainly do need to take one day at a time and enjoy it. I think we all know what is important and it’s tragedies like this that remind us to live in the moment. Staci’s big smile will not be forgotten.

  5. Beautifully written and definitely puts life and things into perspective. I could not agree more on all the really tough life events that I’ve had to face and that many friends and family have faced and are facing. My girlfriend is in her 5th cancer battle. No words for all of this. Embrace your loved ones and make sure they all know how much they are loved, even our furry angels should hear that. They understand love ❤️

    • Cheryl – thanks for such a touching comment. You know better than most people about embracing life through hardships and seizing the moment. So glad things are going so well for you now…and that you have adorable pups to share life with.

  6. So beautifully written Suzanne.
    Our family is honored by your tribute to Staci.
    Your words mean so much to so many.
    You are such a loving caring friend.
    You are a gift to my life. Thank you,

  7. You are so right as we get older we see the loss of loved ones and friends. I thought when I loss my parents and brother in my early twenties that it could not get worse. Well, I lost a granddaughter and that was the worst, seeing your child who you swore to protect, cry as he stood their in his Army uniform, broke my heart. I have lost so many friends and loved ones. My heart heals but aches when a memory suddenly appears.

  8. You know how much your thoughts will mean to Terri and Alfie. Every loss leaves a hole in our heart that can never be filled but can be softened with the love of good friends.

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