Sudden death has been a constant in my family’s history.
From my own reference point ~ myself (!) ~ my mother was killed instantly in a car accident when I was seven, and my almost-year-old brother died a few hours later of injuries sustained in that accident. My first step-mother died immediately after a fall from a window the summer after I graduated from high school. A few years later, while I was in law school, one of my aunts died quickly of a heart attack or stroke. When my third step-mother died about ten years ago from lung cancer, I was somewhat surprised by the time it had taken. But then a couple of years later, my 24-year-old son died of suicide. We were back on track for disaster and its consequences: sudden horror and heartache.
When my third step-mother died, I was also surprised by her age ~ she was in her early seventies. By that point, several of my friends had recently lost parents, and I was adjusting to the idea that death was not always sudden and did not claim only the young. Fewer than 10% of Americans die suddenly, and the average life expectancy in this country is 76 for men and 81 for women, but my experience had indicated otherwise.
My father’s death was, I suppose, more typical of the American experience. He was a few weeks short of his 85th birthday and, while his actual demise was unexpectedly sudden, he was suffering his third bout of lung cancer and had been experiencing symptoms for several weeks (although the latter had been news to me).
A lot of statistics . . . but I am seeking a context for my father’s death. My life has been overshadowed by the instantaneous disappearance of one person after another, and now, yet another. Although I had been informed by internet sources that he might well die from a sudden hemorrhage, I suppose that I imagined a lingering end. I had already been mentally preparing for several drives across the state to spend time with him during what I suspected would be his final weeks.
But, no. Vanished. Again.
I wonder where they have all gone.