Yesterday marked nine years since my late husband, Jarronn, passed away.
Nine years have gone by, and the time seems to have been long and short at the same time. The years have been full of life lessons and refining moments, and yet so many people have felt an emptiness in the space he used to occupy as a dear friend and family member.
I still think of him often. I think about how incredibly special he was. About the imprint he’s left on me. About how much he’s loved and missed. And how none of us — not him, not me, not the people who knew him — had the slightest clue that a random Thursday in July would be his last day here with us.
I’ve been thinking about the fragility of life.
At his memorial service nine years ago, our pastor who delivered Jarronn’s eulogy talked about the concept of age. By common standards, Jarronn was young when he died at age 29.
But what if we thought about age and being young or old, not in terms of how many years a person has lived, but instead in terms of how many years a person has left to live? When we think of age this way, the 50-year-old who will live to 93 is actually quite young. And in Jarronn’s case, by the time he hit 25, he was actually quite old.
None of us can be certain when we’re going to die, but I think too many of us take for granted that we have decades and decades ahead of us, when that might not be the case. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I find myself frustrated and worrisome over small details that mean little in the grand scheme of life. And when I notice that I’m sweating the small stuff, thoughts of Jarronn’s death remind me how quickly life can fall apart and reveal what really matters. I remind myself that I, or the people around me, might be older than we think.
It’s a sobering thought, yes. Not at all the kind that makes you feel warm and tingly inside. But I’d argue there is an upside to recognizing the fragility of life:
There’s something about death that prompts us to live.
No, we can’t realistically live every day like it’s our last — if we did, most of us would end up fired, broke, and overweight. But we can choose to live as though time is not guaranteed. We can choose to live on purpose.
That thing you’re scared of – why not try it?
That person who hurt you – why not forgive them?
That place you want to see – why not make plans to visit?
That pain you want to avoid – why not lean in and heal it?
That connection with God you seek – why not invest in it?
That moment that only comes once – why not be present for it?
Jarronn – I’m grateful for how you loved me and to be part of the beautiful legacy you built in just 29 years of life. You taught me that while we can’t control time, we can control ourselves. May I find a way to live as though I’m old.
Here’s more from previous July 30ths:
– How To Be There for Someone Who Lost a Loved One
– 7 Years Later: A Letter To My Newly Widowed Self
– What Happened (from my old blog)
PortiaJuly 31, 2018 at 9:50 am
WOW! I’m always so stunned on how you articulate your thoughts into words. Thank you for sharing parts of you <3
MaRiceJuly 31, 2018 at 10:29 am
Thinking about age “in terms of how many years a person has yet to live”.
Nicole PayneJuly 31, 2018 at 2:44 pm
Wow, Jessica … what an awakening thought … to look at age from the perspective of how many years we have left … wow … I am … inspired by how you write candidly about Jarronn and what he has meant to you and has taught you. This is an amazing and ongoing message that can change the way people think and live. Amen, girl and a true THANK YOU for sharing.
Susan ThorsonJuly 31, 2018 at 3:25 pm
This is beautiful, Jessica and, as usual, challenging and compelling. Thank you for sharing your heart. You are one special lady!
ChristinaJuly 31, 2018 at 4:27 pm
Yes, yes, yes, yes.
JamesJuly 31, 2018 at 5:28 pm
It will be nine years for me this year also (Nov 11). As you said, it feels a time ago and yet not that long ago. It’s so rare, but very encouraging to find people in our situation who haven’t folded up shop on life (I got to meet Jordan in KY years ago via a mutual friend JB) Thanks for the reminder to live with purpose.
Betty TomlinsonJuly 31, 2018 at 5:34 pm
Truly inspiring and beautiful Jess. God Bless you always.
Kira SanchezJuly 31, 2018 at 6:36 pm
This is truly a great piece of writing: captivating, concise, and challenging. Thanks for sharing your heart and perspective.
AdukeJuly 31, 2018 at 8:13 pm
This is right on time for me. Life is short and it’s so easy to forget. I need to take more calculated risks.
RaeOctober 23, 2018 at 12:20 am
This is a really interesting perspective. I’ve definitely been guilty of wishing my days away and just not being fully appreciative of the days where I woke up. How entitled of me to think that I have all this time left. The death of a classmate really made me check myself on this. Thank you for the nudge. :)