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May 17, 2012

We've lost one of our own

In May 2011, my friend and colleague Ann Jones sent me a beautiful picture of her mother, which I included in a post last year on June 1, with a poem by Katherine Walker. In the post, I noted that last May was Ann's first Mother's Day without her beloved mom. At her mother's passing, Ann became the caregiver for her father. Little did I know that her father would spend his first Father's Day without his only daughter this year.

Ann died on April 24. While working out at a local gym, she suffered cardiac arrest. She was transported to the hospital, in ICU and appeared to be stable. Relatives were visiting her late in the afternoon, left for dinner, and she suffered a final heart attack shortly after they left. 

Sudden-ness. Unexpected-ness. The incredible swiftness of the departure of a friend or loved one can, quite literally, take our breath away. Like a sucker punch to the deepest part of who we are. No bruise or scar visible, yet there it is. Deeply, deeply felt.

Ann was a jewel of a human being. A videographer, she worked with every advertising agency in our small city, as well as with numerous business owners who couldn't afford an agency. I'm not kidding when I write that EVERYONE who knew Ann liked, loved, or admired her. I'm not exaggerating when I say that she NEVER said an unkind word about anyone (hard to do when you work in advertising!). I always knew that every interchange I had with Ann would be pleasant in the best sense of the word. In fact, I was about to call her about a project when a mutual friend emailed me to say that she had left us.

We were fortunate to have had Ann with us as long as we did. A few years ago, she was in a serious car accident that damaged her eyesight and left her in delicate health. She had become all too familiar with hospitals and clinics, but you would never know it to talk to or work with her.

Truly, we "do not know the hour."  Look around. Look at how special your friends and coworkers are. The friendly pharmacist who fills your prescriptions. The waitress who already knows what you want when you enter one of your frequent haunts. The fellow employee who is the first to say hello to you when you walk in the office. The librarian who helps you find a book. The teacher who guides your child through school. We do not know. We cannot know. When. When they--or we--are spending that last moment here. 

Ann was a treasure to know. In her parting, she reminds me that life--every tiny moment of it--is a treasure, as well. And now, I hope and believe that Ann and her mother are sharing the treasure of the life we cannot quite see from here--together.

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