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.
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.