Death, Grief, and Dominoes

As  type this, I’m still absorbing the news that my aunt Denise has passed away after losing round two with breast cancer. As she lived far away, I only got to see her every few years. But her bright smile , sparkling eyes, and contagious laughter made up for lost time with every visit.

From the moment I learned her health was declining, I couldn’t stop thinking about the last time I saw her in person. She’d come to visit my parents, so Adam and I took Ethan over and we got to chat and enjoy her for a few hours. The plan had been that I would join in a game of dominoes that night (domino games with Denise were the stuff of legend). But as the hours wore on, my mommy-of-a-toddler body started to wear down, and I didn’t think I’d be able to stay awake through an entire game.

So I went home. Last chances have a way of looking disposable.

Picture of Denise

Denise with her little brother (my dad)

She and my parents sent me out with smiles, insisting we’d play another time. Adam and I talked of flying out to visit her, but money was tight, the moment was never perfect, and the summer passed. I never got that game of dominoes.

I realize that it does no good to beat myself up over a moment I let slip by, but I do need to — want to — grieve it. My window of opportunity to get to know her better has closed. How many times I’ve sat swallowed up in the pain of losing someone I could have made the time to love more. Love betterHow often I’ve loved from a distance, more by choice than necessity. It needs to hurt or I’d have no desire to change. To be more. To be better.

So, let it cut me deep that I could have done more. Let the pain remind me, over and over, that my time with others is limited on this earth. Let it move me to action when it’s not convenient or even logical.

Even more, let my pain move you. Love deeply today, friends. There will come a last chance. It could be this one.

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