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Life is short and you need to hold on tight to the ones you love.
Those are two lessons I have learned recently as I watched people deal with devastating heartache.
I received a call while working a couple weeks ago from my wife.
She was in tears as she told me a 7-month-old girl had died at my son’s day care that day.
I have never experienced a range of emotions like I did when I heard the news.
At first, my heart dropped just at the mere sound of my son’s name in the same sentence as the word death.
Then, I began to wonder what the circumstances were behind the death and if my son was affected by the traumatic experience.
Finally, an abundance of sympathy for the parents filled my body as I thought about what my life would be like if I lost my son at any age, much less so early on in his life.
Over the next few days, my wife and I both struggled with what happened.
I had several nightmares imagining that it was my son who could not be revived with CPR after he stopped breathing while taking a nap.
My wife even woke up in the middle of the night afraid and convinced that our son was not breathing.
If we were having these thoughts and these emotions over someone who wasn’t our child, I can’t even fathom the sorrow the little girl’s mom and dad have been going through.
While I’ve always treasured every moment with my son, this incident made me realize just how precious life is.
No matter how tired I am after a long day at work or how much I just want to relax on the couch and watch TV, spending time with Austin makes my life that much fuller and happier.
That is a lesson I hope I never forget.
My close friend also is having some tough times lately in his marriage.
Whether his relationship with his wife will last or not is up in the air.
It has come to the point where there are so many issues that it’s unclear whether the marriage is salvageable.
Listening to his problems, giving my own advice and seeing how a union that was supposed to last forever is cracking has made me look at my own marriage.
My wife and I have been married for nearly five years.
Sure, there has been some arguments and probably more than a few times when she wondered why she chose to marry a movie and sports-obsessed guy like me.
Overall though, I think our lives together have been wonderful.
We have had some great memories and laughs along the way.
We are best friends who know each other, for better or worse, like the back of our hands.
I know it is cliche, but I truly love her more and more each day.
That’s why when I see the flip side of the coin, a rocky marriage in danger of faltering, I realize how important things are in my life.
I know I can’t get complacent and take my wife for granted because I don’t want to wake up one morning and ask myself, ‘How did we get to this point?’
I need to remind her how beautiful, intelligent and hilarious she is as often as possible.
I need to let her know that she is the best mother that Austin could ever ask for.
I need to show her the respect and kindness that she deserves.
I need to make sure to get rid of my at times selfish ways and remember that she and Austin are my top priorities.
I need to always make sure to tell her I love her more than anything and that she feels that those words are true.
Sometimes the best lessons come out of tragedy and heartbreak.
I am just glad I learned before it was too late.
(Bryan Marshall is the staff writer at the Grant County News. He can be reached at email@example.com)