Father and daughter visiting gravestone of deceased motherI learned just a few minutes ago that a childhood friend has passed away.

Gone from this life to wherever we go next, and I just can’t believe her time on earth with all of us is over.

Yesterday, over lunch with my father, he told me about his 60th high school reunion last week, and the board of names of classmates who had died since the 50th reunion. At 78, you expect a certain degree of attrition. That’s what happen the older we get, right? More and more people leave us.

But that’s not supposed to happen at 45. Not in this day and age of modern medicine and miracles.

“Do you ever wonder what it’s all for?” I asked my dad yesterday.

His answer focused on a classmate who never married, never had children, and while she was an accomplished professor, when she left, he wondered what her legacy was.

So is that it? The whole point of our being here is to produce a new generation that will live on beyond us and carry our values and beliefs and beauty into the future?

Kids jumping off the dock into a beautiful mountain lakeI can’t believe that’s the only purpose of living, to have a family, although I can see how it is a big one. My time with my children is irreplaceable and fleeting. My most important work has been raising these precious souls to become meaning-focused individuals who will go out into the world and make it better.

But that can’t be it.

So what, I ask you, is the purpose? What are we doing here? Why run this trajectory of living at all, only to expire at the end and then, as my father said, once you’re gone, no one thinks of you.

Is that true?

My friend died this morning, and all I can do is cry. She smiled at everyone who met her, brought cheer to everyone she encountered. She was silly and fun and funny and loving.

She leaves twin teenagers and a wonderful husband and an amazing mother and two kind sisters.

Can't stop laughing when they are togetherShe was part of my high school graduating class of 340 eager people all of whom remember her kindness.

And she leaves us too soon.

But I wonder, when is it not too soon?

When my grandmother died at nearly 92, I wasn’t ready. I still miss her every day and wish she were here. I wish I could hug her and sit beside her and hold her soft elegant hands and tell her about my day and hear her voice.

My grandfather has been gone for 15 years and I wish just once I could hear his voice and see his smile and feel the radiance of his love again.

And now my friend is gone.

Not my first friend to die and not my closest friend, either, but someone who helped me define who I am, and where I’ve been. Someone who reminded me of what was good and pure and possible in life. Someone whose smile was a familiar surprise when we’d bump into each other and whose hug was a familiar reassurance.

some friends will always have your back, and you'll remember their kindness...
some friends will always have your back, and you’ll remember their kindness…

I’m 45 years old, and I know that life passes quickly. I know one day we will all no longer walk this earth.

And yet, I just can’t accept it.

How can I go back to work this afternoon with this news? But I must. We all must continue on despite the planet being one person lighter and in some way make our mark so that our time here wasn’t wasted.

I’m not sure how I’m going to go about that, but I really hope I do. Sending love out into the universe. We all need it.

in memory of Randi Gartenberg Schreiber…you were a good friend to all

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