What I Know About Death

Three weeks ago, God wrapped his hands around my tiny world and shook the hell out of it. On my way home from vacation, a friend called to say that our mutual friend, Brian, had died that morning. His fifty-one year old heart had stopped beating while the early morning hours turned night into day.

Brian was a happy, sweet guy. He loved the Florida Gators and his Golden Retriever, Bourbon. (And in case you didn’t catch on from his dog’s name, he loved Maker’s Mark too.) His family was his treasure. He treated friends like family. He was in every sense of the word, a gentleman.

In early May, Nilla, my thirteen year old Golden Retriever died. A week later, I received a Mother’s Day card “from Nilla” thanking me for being a great mom. From the handwriting and the over the top gesture, I knew the sender had to be Brian.

My mind has been working overtime trying to make sense of why God would take Brian, someone whose heart was so full and whose intentions were so pure. Maybe God needed Brian up there more than he needed him down here. Maybe Brian’s work here was done.

My mind is tired. I can’t make seem to make sense of Brian’s death no matter how hard I try. But after all that thinking, here’s what I know about death.

Death is a thief. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. It sneaks in when you’re not looking and takes what you value most – the cherished, shiny things that make your life easier and fuller.

No matter how much I hope or ask or want, Brian will not walk into our local watering hole and make me laugh.

It’s not our place to question the Universe. Peace comes from trusting it. From flowing with it.

Odds are you won’t live to be eighty years old. Do everything you want to do right now. And I mean right now.

Don’t be stingy with your feelings. Share them with everyone you love. Share them with everyone you sort of love.

Take a lesson from my friend, Brian, and do warm and fuzzy things for people. Make them smile. Make them believe the world is good. Because it is.

I’m finished asking God why Brian isn’t here anymore. Instead, I’ll tell him how lucky he is to have Brian up there with Him. And, I’ll ask Him if he could tell Brian that every time I see a tall, handsome, smiling guy walk into our local watering hole, I’ll look twice wishing it were him.


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    Karena, this is beautiful … I feel like I know your friend Brian too! Your kindness and generosity always inspire me and make me smile.
    So very glad to know you!

  • Nancy Kevorkian

    Thank you for sharing Brian with us because through your kind words about Brian he lives on and inspires me to be better. I love how he sent you the card when you lost your dog!

  • Sandy Pappas

    Karena always bringing tears with your beautiful messages. This morning with your lovely handwritten note in my Gratitude Journal and now with this incredible message about a beloved friend. I often say the more we Love the more we will experience Loss in Life. And it is clear you love a lot and bring us along for the journey. Heartfelt sympathy for the loss of your dear friend.

  • Teri Messing

    Thanks K for that beautiful post and tribute to Brian. It was three weeks yesterday, and I am still struggling to make sense of it. Your post was just the medicine I needed!

  • Barton Cobb

    Thank you for the beautiful post about my brother. My sisters, father and I have heard so many stories like yours over the last three weeks and it is comforting to know that he touched so many.

  • Leonie

    Oh Karena, what a beautiful post, so eloquently put.
    Thank you for sharing and reminding us to live ever day like its our last and cherishing those near and dear.