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Yesterday, for the second time in a month, I heard of the unexpected death of someone I know, or knew. I wasn’t particularly close to either, but what made it especially shocking is that one was probably around 40 and the other was my age.

Jay was a dance teacher I met in Miami. His booty-shaking class would leave you breathless and inspired. He invited a group of teenage girls from poor neighborhoods to take his class for free so they could feel valued and empowered. Just before Thanksgiving he went to the hospital not feeling well and then died of an aneurysm.

Amy was a girl I danced with in middle school and then we went to the same high school where she became captain of the dance team. She was kind to everyone, one of those girls you were glad to know. I don’t know much except that she passed unexpectedly at home.

I wonder if they realized they were dying. I wonder if they were scared. I wonder if they felt peace. I wonder what they were looking forward to in the new year. I wonder what they had left unfinished or saved for later.

I think of death as awakening from a dream. On the other side there is no more pain, no more suffering, no more trials. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know is revealed. The love in your heart is all you take with you and it’s joined with all the love and light and joy there ever was, is, and will be. That’s where I believe Jay and Amy are now. Dancing, of course.

You never know when it’s coming for you — from one day to the next, you could be gone. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but we don’t talk about death yet it’s going to happen to all of us. Preferably peacefully in our sleep when we’re old and content, but maybe not. Jay and Amy are jarring reminders that no day is guaranteed.

I decided to write this post to share Jay and Amy with you so you know they existed; they lived abundantly with open hearts; they were kind and joyful and good; they loved and were loved. What more can you ask of life, even one so brief? We ask why they were taken from us when they surely had more to give and more life left to live? But we will only know when we see them again on the other side.

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life.”
-Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting


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