Take Care of Yourself!
Tonight, I'm going to a funeral. A friend of a friend, who I think was in his late 40's or possibly 50, but no older, died of a heart attack last weekend. He had diabetes and didn't manage it well. Now his friends and family are devastated. I was hoping to see him at a barbecue I'm holding on Saturday; now I'm going to his funeral on Thursday instead.
I had a boyfriend once, the subject of many a teary blog post here, who was (is) a serious alcoholic. He always used to say things like "I never expected to live this long, so I can do whatever I want now, since I'm living on borrowed time." I used to listen to this and in my heart, wonder "What about me?" I always half expected that he'd die of a heart attack, a stroke, or suicide, suddenly, and that I'd one day get the call that he was gone. Sometimes, when I couldn't get in touch with him, I would think "this is it." Once when he didn't show up for work and both I and and his boss had forgotten that he'd told us he wouldn't be in until later, I was convinced that he'd died in the night. I actually went to his apartment in the middle of the day and pounded on the door. In my anxiety, I thought I heard someone moving around in there. Of course, it turned out to be yet another false alarm.
I know several people - we probably all do - who don't care for themselves properly. None of us is perfect, and life is always unpredictable. You can live the perfect, healthy lifestyle and still die of heart disease - or impact with a bus - far too young. But we can better the odds, and we can do it, if not for ourselves, for the people in our lives who love us.
It's hard to take care of ourselves, and sometimes scary. Nobody wants to deal with diabetes, or get a bad diagnosis, or face our addictions, or go to the dentist. But getting ready to say goodbye to a man who had friends, and a child, and colleagues, and extended family, and who could have lived for a good 40 years longer, makes me want to shout at all the people who are burning the candle at both ends: Take the time to take care of yourselves! Go to the doctor for that troubling symptom you've been too scared to face; if you have a diagnosed condition, follow your doctor's orders; if you're getting older like we all are, get that prostate exam or that mammogram or whatever is recommended; if you know you have a problem with substance abuse (and you know it if you do, even if you don't want to admit it), get help. Do it, not for you, but for the rest of us. So we don't have to sit in shock, wondering at how the world can all of a sudden be empty of you. Because we love you.