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Death makes us appreciate family

It’s all over the news. The Jasper family was told by a liason officer that their son, Sergeant Jesse Jasper, had been killed in Afghanistan. It wasn’t until Jesse’s girlfriend saw the condolence group on Facebook that she called the Jasper family to let them know Jesse was still alive. Jesse called his family and his father said, in an outpouring of gratitude, "Oh my God, you’re alive, I love you, I love you, I love you, you’re alive."

Faced with never seeing his son again, this father’s love and appreciation was amplified. I think love has way of doing that to all of us. In death, even the shabbiest of relatives can become a good guy. Good people become heroes. Death puts things in perspective, puts away the conflicts and disagreements of the past.

Funny thing is, death is always there. It’s in the future for all of us. But we don’t apply it to our lives until it actually occurs to someone close to us. But what if we thought about death more? What if we pondered our loved ones’ absence more often? I am not suggesting we all put on black eyeshadow and recite Edgar Allen Poe, but I am suggesting we look at the brief nature of life and treat our loved ones accordingly.

The other day in rush-hour traffic, I had a waking nightmare about one of my kids getting hit by a car. When I got home, I put my arms around that child and held them for a half-hour.

While I hope we won’t dwell on death and mourning, I do hope we will cherish every moment we have with our loved ones. Ironically, I think being aware of death is one of the secrets to great living.

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