May 29, 2017

Too young, too soon to die

Carrie Fisher in 1979.

The death of 60-year-old actress and author Carrie Fisher from a heart attack suffered on a plane while traveling from London to Los Angeles became the latest reminder of the mortality that all of us face.

Pop singer George Michael died of a heart attack on Christmas Day at age 54.  Most of the funerals I have attended in the past dozen years have been for those younger.  Nearly four years ago, Floyd raconteur, character and friend Tom Ryan went down to a heart attack at 57.

Tom died shortly after I came home to Floyd after a long hospital stay for an accident that doctors said should have been fatal.  It was the third time I came close to death in my now 69 years on this earth.

God, we are told, has a plan for all of us.  If so, why does an alcoholic newspaperman who spent too much time working in the sordid world of politics survive why others who appear far more deserving of life do not?

Guitarist, singer and songwriter Glenn Frey, 67, co-founder of the Eagles, died from pneumonia brought on by ulcerative colitis nearly a year ago.  Former Roanoke Times columnist Monty Simmons Leitch, 66, died from several injuries from after a pickup truck mowed her down at the one stoplight intersection in Floyd.  She sewed more than 60 holiday-themed bags for residents of English Meadows Senior Living Community in the New River Valley prior to her death.

My dad survived World War II only to be electrocuted in an industrial accident in Tampa, Florida, in 1948.  He didn’t make it to 30.  Neither did any of his four brothers.

Looking back over the years, I’ve lost too many friends who died at younger ages.  If their deaths were part of a deity’s “master plan,” more explanation is due.  Perhaps the plan is flawed.

We arrive this weekend at the end of 2016, a year when we saw too many good people die and too many of them appeared to have more living to do and more to contribute to society.

Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher’s friend and co-star in Star Wars, aid “as if 2016 couldn’t get any worse.”

We have three days left in 2016.  Given recent events, it can — and probably will — get worse.

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