Everyone You Love Will Die

Everyone You Love Will Die, 2I hope (and believe) that everyone you love will also be resurrected, but this post isn’t about that. It’s about how we don’t generally know the day or hour that our loved ones will die, or the order. (And in my experience, it’s never quite who I think it will be.) It’s a tiny bit about Valentines Day, and it’s about a book.

More than four people that were at my wedding four years ago, couldn’t be present, if it happened today. Of the people who have passed, it wasn’t my 97 year old grandmother, who is alive and well, or another family member whose health I know to be poor. It was my younger granny, my mother-in-law, from a cancer we didn’t yet know she had, my sister-in-law’s mother, who passed from the same cancer, my friend George, who is just younger than me, and most recently, the wife of our sealer, who lived next door to my husband during his formative years, and whose husband inspired my own to be an architect.

I still remember going to George’s Facebook page the day (and days) following the sad news, and seeing it fill with the brightest, loveliest pictures and the brightest, loveliest words. I could believe the sincerity and truth in all of them, because he was just that kind of a person–warm, jovial, and loving. He also saved me once, on a morning when I needed saving, and was immensely afraid and far from home. It was easy to imagine that he might have saved many others, too. I wished that I told him how much he meant to me, and how grateful I was for his friendship, but because I didn’t do that, I told his sister instead. I also wish that he could have read all of the soft, glowing words about him, when he was still alive to read them, but that didn’t happen either.

This is the part that is a tiny bit about Valentine’s Day, because I am still thinking about it, and because it makes me want to be brave and vulnerable, to tell people what they mean to me now–to send love letter after love letter. It would admittedly be a bit too awkward to begin, “These are the words I would write (or think, or feel) after you died,” but I would be mindful of them.

I would also be mindful of a very sweet and very funny children’s book I know, called Everyone You Love Will Die. It was written by an internet friend, Daniel Crosby, and illustrated by a real life friend (a dear one), Naomi Win. Many of the rhyming words and charming pictures imagine how loved ones might pass. For instance, “And Uncle Gus? Hit by a bus. It happens to the best of us. Your third grade teacher, Mrs. Crocket, may stick her finger in a socket.” But there are more words, and a bigger, more beautiful point.

That point is to live life differently now. (We might even say, to recognize that eternal life, is now.) It is to enjoy spending time with the people we love, and to be grateful for the moments we have with them, now. It is to let this knowledge change us.

That everyone we love will die, doesn’t have to be only sad. There can be kindness and presence in it, and maybe even joy. “We have each other and you have us and love will always be enough. Yes, everyone you love will die but you’re here today and so am I.”

Rachel

Rachel is a PhD student in Philosophy of Religion and Theology at Claremont Graduate University. She co-edited _Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings_ with Joanna Brooks and Hannah Wheelwright. She is also a lover of all things books and bikes.

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8 Responses

  1. Emily U says:

    This sounds like a wonderful book – not having read it, it reminds me of my favorite Valentine’s Day book, I Like You.

    I’ve often thought, too, how I wish people could hear, when they are alive, the good things people say after they die. Sometimes this happens on big birthdays – I made a book of memories from all her children and grandchildren for my grandma on her 90th birthday – but it doesn’t happen enough.

    Lovely, post, thanks for the reminder to cherish the loved ones we have with us right now.

    • Rachel says:

      The book _I Like You_ by Sandol Stoddard Warhburg? That is one of my favorite books, ever. A friend of mine read it to his baby in utero every single day, and then after babe was born, too.

      Yes, sometimes. But not enough. (It actually just happened for me, on my own birthday, which I was not expecting.)

  2. Daniel Crosby says:

    Thanks, everyone – here is the whole thing:

    “Everyone You Love Will Die”

    When you are young, it seems as though, you’ll live a life that’s free of woe
    Your days will be so full and free, catching bugs and climbing trees

    The only books you’ll read are fun, your favorite food is bubble gum,
    Until the day you realize that everyone you love will die

    Your Grams will be the first to go, though sadly you will never know,
    just when or where or how (or why), that Death he is a sneaky guy

    Next may be your Aunt Lucille, shocked senseless by electric eels
    And Uncle Gus? Hit by a bus, it happens to the best of us

    Your 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Crocket may stick her finger in a socket,
    While Mr. Page who taught you art is sumptuous supper for a shark

    And your first love, a skillful dancer eventually succumbs to cancer,
    And it will never quite seem right that Miss Agnes died of a spider bite

    Your proud Pa-Pa so big and tall may suffer from a slip and fall,
    While your Ma-Ma so sweet and kind may meet her end with a melon rind

    Your neighbor friend? Yep, he’ll die too, for improper paddling of a canoe,
    As will your mailman Mr. Cox a victim of same nameless pox

    And sadly, yes child, pets die too, even the ones you barely knew,
    go belly up while you’re at school, to love and lose is very cruel

    But don’t despair child, you needn’t cry, sniff your sniffles, dry your eyes,
    the fact we all must surely go makes time more precious than you know

    So, swing on ropes and climb on trees, catch every critter that you see,
    Laugh until your tummy hurts, skip and play, but don’t skip dessert

    Hug your Mother, hug your Dad, hold your Nana’s wrinkled hand,
    Kiss Uncle Gus and Aunt Lucille, You see how great that makes you feel?

    We have each other and you have us and love will always be enough,
    Yes, everyone that you love will die, but you’re here today and so am I.

  3. Jenny says:

    I love your thoughts on this Rachel, and the thoughts you shared from the book. What a beautiful idea to live so abundantly now, letting people know how you feel and forming strong connections that bring joy in the present moment instead of living for a future life and then being sad when loved ones go there too soon. I love your conclusion and the conclusion of Daniel’s book. This is wonderful: “That everyone we love will die, doesn’t have to be only sad. There can be kindness and presence in it, and maybe even joy.”

  4. EmilyCC says:

    I have to get this book and I’m grateful for the reminder to tell others how much they mean to me. Thank you, friend

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