Death and loss is something that I have grown to be experienced with over my 41 years in life.  I have lost numerous relatives to terminal illnesses.  I was expecting these deaths to occur and I had plenty of time to prepare myself for the loss and to speak any words that I wanted/needed these people to know before they passed.  There have only been a few deaths that were really surprising to me.

First and foremost, one of the first and most traumatic experiences I’ve had with death occurred when I was in high school.  I believe it was my Junior year.  Jim Bivens, someone I had known since the 7th grade, had died secondary to injuries from being hit by a drunk driver.  He was one of those people who was well-liked by just about everyone.  It seems as though my entire class skipped school to attend the funeral.  In fact, there were so many people there that there were people standing all over the lawn of the funeral home because they couldn’t get into the chapel.

One year, Jim gave me a Christmas ornament as a Christmas gift.  I always find myself remembering him during this time of the year because I still hang that ornament on my tree religiously.  Jim was a good friend…to everyone.

Next in line is the death of my biological mother, Shelia Stone.  I was at the hospital the day that they diagnosed her with lung cancer.  This was in October of 2008.  She passed away on April 28, 2009.  I was expecting this…but not at the time it came…not one bit.

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The next  shocking experience would have to be my youngest half brother Keith.  He died at the age of 31 from an accidental drug overdose.  He went into the bathroom one afternoon to take a bath, which is something he usually did when he wasn’t feeling well.  Keith had heart problems from the day of his birth.  He was born with a hole in his heart and required several surgeries to correct this.  Keith and I really did not have much of a relationship until our mother passed away from lung cancer on April 28, 2009.  From that point, until the day of his death (April 11, 2011) Keith and I were in contact often.  I think in some ways I probably reminded him of our mother.  I do look a lot like her.  I realized how much I really did love him…what a gift that was…and then to be taken away so quickly afterward.

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(This picture was taken the day we all met for the first time…January 27, 2003…Keith’s birthday. Left to right:  Me, Shelia, Rickey, and Keith.)

There was really only one death that I believe sent me into an honest to goodness state of shock, and that was of Chad Lilly.  Chad was one of my husband’s best friends, and through their relationship he became one of mine also.

Chad was one of few that I considered to be family.  He was always there for my husband, and even me, through thick and thin, no matter what, no matter what time…he was there…front and center.  I think that his passing has really affected me in a more significant way than the others for the following reasons:

  • Chad was young (31) at the time of his death (February 28, 2014, a year ago today).
  • He wanted to finish his college degree and make his parents proud (they were anyway).
  • He wanted to marry someday and have kids.
  • He had an entire life ahead of him and so many things to experience.

I guess that what I’ve discovered is that prior to now I have never really experienced the death of a close friend before.  The absolute unexpectedness of it was the part that was so traumatic for me…for us.  I’m thankful for the time that we had, even though it seems rather short now.  I’m thankful for the memories…they are all blessings now.  I’m thankful for the family who raised someone with his character, happiness, and friendliness.  I’m mostly thankful for the opportunity to have had such a person to call a true friend in my lifetime.  Friends such as Chad are very few and far between.  I’m thankful…enough said.

Memories…

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https://i1.wp.com/lizduke.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/10309618_10100102255976206_7507166129965196907_n.jpg?fit=510%2C340https://i1.wp.com/lizduke.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/10309618_10100102255976206_7507166129965196907_n.jpg?resize=150%2C150Elizabeth DukeBlog - Daily Life in the Rabbit HoleMemorials- Those We Have Loved and LostCHAD LILLY,memorial,MEMORIALSDeath and loss is something that I have grown to be experienced with over my 41 years in life.  I have lost numerous relatives to terminal illnesses.  I was expecting these deaths to occur and I had plenty of time to prepare myself for the loss and to speak...The world through the eyes of an artist ...