Ever-Changing Reflection

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding... It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I had been working in my first newspaper job for only a few weeks as a copywriter. I was really getting the hang of writing and editing the obituaries (I know, who wants to spend the summer after their freshman year of college writing obits?), and I even liked it. A part of me wished I had more creative license and time; I wanted to delve into these peoples' lives, to write mini eulogies rather than local paper obituaries.

It was my 19th birthday, and I arrived at the office to a pile of incoming obituary forms. I sat down at my teal-colored Mac to get to work. I think there was an accomplished, elderly professor who made some impressive scientific discovery. Someone's grandmother. The usual and expected.

Then there was the one that stopped me in my tracks. The obituary that brought tears to my eyes as I wrote it. The tragedy that broke me down that morning on my 19th birthday.

There had been a car accident. He was 19. Unlike so many teen accidents, this one did not involve alcohol (or texting, it didn't exist back then). It was just that: an accident. An unfortunate twist of fate that stole this young man from the Earth. 

He was the same age as me, and he was dead. He left behind his parents, his friends, his girlfriend... and his two-year-old daughter. He was just starting to make a life for himself, and he was gone. 

That obituary was a reality check for me -- one of many. It was a reminder that every moment is precious and sacred, that every kiss, hug, "I love you" and smile should be cherished because you never know when it may be the last. That young man taught me the value of not going to bed angry, of not leaving for work without a kiss goodbye, of not ending a phone conversation without telling a person you love them.

I must have sat in front of that teal Mac for 20 minutes, staring at this man's obituary on the screen, sobbing.

I never expected a summer job as a newspaper copywriter to teach me so much or touch me so deeply.

{Image via we heart it}

This post was inspired by:

Mama's Losin' It
Prompt #1
Describe a tragedy you didn't expect to be as deeply affected by as you are.

1 comment:

Alicia said...

oh man, its crazy the things that catch us off guard some times. stories that hit close to home make me emotional too....thanks for sharing this tender moment...hugs!