Saying goodbye to Ted — and realizing death among peers has become a natural part of life

I call it “in the zone.” Pretty vague, I guess. For me it means you’ve reached the time of your life when it’s no longer a shock when one of your peers — even someone younger than you — dies of “natural causes.”

Hold on a minute. What does this have to do with my Younger Daughter?

My spouse has said these blog posts tend to be more about me than Younger Daughter.

This is true. I’ve come to think of this blog as a legacy for her, in addition to putting a perspective on day-to-day life.

There’ll come a time, sooner than it does for most children, where this will be her sole source for hearing my voice.  This isn’t dark. It’s practical.

I’m incredibly fortunate that both of my parents are still with me — 84 and 77 — and quite healthy.

By the time Younger Daughter reaches my current age, I’ll be 107.

Getting back to where I started: I have learned that death, while it is never welcome, stalks each of us at its own deliberate pace.

That’s really all I need to know. It doesn’t involve fate or fairness.

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These ponderances on mortality have been kicking around my brain for a few years. I believe it was the recent, unexpected death of a friend that convinced to try to pull them together. If I was waiting for thoughts to coherently gel, maybe I didn’t wait long enough — but it was sapping enough of my mental energy that something had to be done.

Ted was 56, younger than I am. He had two beautiful grandchildren and relished every moment he shared with them. He had a wonderful partner, and the two of them had forged a creative, peaceful existence built on a solid foundation of love.

Ted and I began working together (many) years ago at the newspaper. He was the cops reporter and I was his night city editor. It was a special relationship in the old days when news still mattered, and we truly chased facts and events and pulled all of the pieces together as we raced to beat the deadline for the next day’s paper.

It’s a collaboration based on talent, gut instinct, persistence, and a host of professional skills. Two work together with one mind, anticipating the next question or detail.

We also had fun. Ted’s sense of humor was a perfect fit, just about everywhere.

We shared other interests and passions. We helped each other through a tough time — essentially a life-saving experience for both of us. I was at his first wedding, nearly 36 years ago. I remember when his children were born. His oldest now has two children of her own.

We stayed in touch. He recently offered me the opportunity to come work with his employer. Said he told the boss I was “the best editor he ever had.” I chickened out. The industry publication was intimidatingly deep and technical.

His peers past and present wrote great tributes, and his children hosted a Celebration of Life get-together. I usually dread these events and end up backing out of going at the last minute.

This time was different. There were so many people, Ted’s family, former employees from the newspaper, and dozens of others I didn’t know. It had been more than 20 years since I had seen the people from our shared past.

Besides, this time, I felt it was different. I heard Ted’s voice in my head (a permanent echo) telling me I needed to go. Ted’s family members reached out and told me how much I meant to Ted.

You know what? I’m glad I did. I must finally becoming comfortable In the Zone.

One response to “Saying goodbye to Ted — and realizing death among peers has become a natural part of life

  1. Growing comfortable with the end of life is not an easy task, but it can be enlightening and therapeutic for all! Good for you! Sorry about Ted, but you learned and grew and he would give you a thumbs-up!

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