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Posts Tagged ‘death’

It’s been a weird year of firsts for me.

Last spring, I was best man at my brother’s wedding.  And while it was a small ceremony, consisting of only the closest friends and family, it was the first time I had truly felt an investment in a wedding ceremony.

A few months later, my good friends and coworkers at Camp Luthelyn, Ryan and Cindy Kobert got married, marking two of the first of my friends to get married, but also the first wedding of my friends that I got to attend.

But along with great joy, comes great sorrow.

Tomorrow, a close friend will be laid to rest, and while I’ve seen the passing of many friends and family members, this seems different.  This is the first time that I’ve had to deal with the unexpected loss of a close friend; something that I would not wish on my worst enemies, and something that at 21 I am still too young to have to go through.

“Natalie A. George, 50, of Indiana, PA died Friday, Februrary 18, 2011, at the Indiana Regional Medical Center.”

That’s what the obituary in the local newspaper says.  The fact that it is one of the most popular “stories” on the Indiana Gazette website right now should tell you how much she meant to people, but beyond that simple fact, it doesn’t tell much more than details of the arrangements.  It doesn’t tell how much she meant to me, and how much she meant to everyone she met.

Natalie was the mother of Christa, TJ and Bekah.  All of whom were campers at Lutherlyn, several times during the same week session as me.  Christa and Bekah went on to become staff members with whom I worked during my time at camp and TJ often came up to visit and volunteer.

But Natalie was more than just a mother to a family of kids going to camp.  She was one of Lutherlyn’s best volunteers.  Natalie, a nurse, often accompanied by her husband Tim, who is a paramedic, would give of themselves several weeks out of the summer to come serve as the volunteer nurse/medical staff at Lutherlyn.

Throughout my years as a camper, I was often on medication for my heart, and quite regularly managed to get myself sick or banged up, and so I spent a lot of time at the health hut with the nurses over the years…

And while I can hardly remember more than a few of my counselors or the kids in my cabins, I remember the nurses and the compassion they showed, and I specifically remember Natalie, remember the summers she was and was not my nurse.  I remember the summer I went to model rocketry camp, and for one reason or another ended up in the health hut.  I can’t remember what it was that had me needing medical attention, for all I know, I could’ve just been homesick, but I DO remember sitting there as Natalie told me about her son TJ and how much he had loved rocketry camp, and I remember how the world seemed a little bit brighter after talking to her.

Natalie was a daughter, a wife, a mother, a volunteer and a friend.  She represented the standard of caregiving that any nurse should strive for.  And the one thing that she is and will continue to be, is missed.

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I’ve been contemplating my “return to blogging” for quite a while, and I woke up this morning knowing today would be the day.  I was fully ready to rant about transportation issues in Morgantown or some other slightly asinine topic.

It wasn’t until a few minutes ago that it truly hit me what I should write about.  11 days ago,  29 coal miners lost their lives in Raleigh County West Virginia.  The day before that, April 4, was the “anniversary” of three Pittsburgh Police officers being gunned down in the line duty.  And today, we find ourselves honoring the memory of 32 students murdered on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007, but just four days from now on the 20th will be the 11th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School resulting in 15 dead including the two gunmen.

If you do the math, that’s 79 deaths.  79 funerals for people who likely still had decades of life ahead of them.  And those are just the major disasters that come to mind, how many more were murdered or otherwise taken from the world before their time?

Today, we are all Hokies.  But today, we are also all sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, friends, spouses, etc.  Don’t let a simple grudge or disagreement ruin a relationship with someone.  Don’t let fear prevent you from trying something new.  You never know when you might lose a loved one, or when your own life might be cut short.  Don’t live a life of regret.

And when you’re sitting down tonight, to pray to whatever God you believe in, pray for the family and friends of all that have been lost in the month of April; the Montcoal Miners, Pittsburgh Police officers, and the students of Virginia Tech and Columbine High School, and anyone else whose lives may have been cut short.

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