Friday, December 28, 2007

You Never Know ...

Most of us plod through our days, working if we must, completing chores, running errands, crossing item after item off a never-ending list of to-do's.

And right around this time of year, we look up from our busy lives to pause and ask others, who are also pausing, "Where did this year go?"

Another year passed. Another year, slipped through our fingers. Some have something to show for it, others only report more of the same.

In years past, I've written down my New Year's resolutions then sealed them in an envelope and tucked them away in my top dresser drawer so that I might pull them out a year later and see how I measured up to my annual ideals.

I didn't do that last year. I forgot, I guess. I went looking for this year's list and came up with the goals I wrote in 2005 for 2006. Thankfully, I've accomplished a couple things on that list. Given that it's two years old. At least I've done something.

But I don't do enough. I don't live every day like it's my last. I don't take risks like I wish I would. More often than not, I cower when I should charge.

Because I, like most, think I have time. There's always tomorrow, right?

Except when there's not.

I was just glancing at headlines and was stunned to read, "Longtime Tribune columnist Terry Armour dies at 46."

I clicked the link. I read the story. But the news wouldn't sink in, as is often the case when learning of a death.

Terry was one of the first people I met when I went to work at the Chicago Tribune. His personality was larger than life. I marveled at how he could be disgruntled and funny at the same time. Most people at newspapers are disgruntled most of the time, but those who manage to keep a sense of humor through the daily insanity are the ones you really remember.

We lost touch when I left the Trib but I remember a co-worker at a later gig returning from a trip telling me that he sat next to a guy on the plane who knew me. Terry. I was touched that he remembered me.

He, of course, was impossible to forget. He worked in sports when I started at the paper. I moved on to the news desk and then to features. Terry ascended through the sports ranks, covering the championship Chicago Bulls, and then broke out of sports to become an entertainment columnist. It was the perfect fit for him: Terry could schmooze like nobody's business.

And he had the most genuine laugh.

Sudden deaths rattle me greatly. Surely Terry didn't wake up today thinking it was his last day on Earth. But his passing is yet another reminder of the need to take better care of myself, of the need for all of us to take better care of ourselves.

And each other.

Update: I was just looking for information on a memorial service for Terry and read that he died of a pulmonary embolism, not a heart attack as had been widely discussed. A heart attack made sense in my mind as Terry was a big guy and he had a stressful job, but my brother recovered from a pulmonary embolism a couple years ago and he's about as healthy as they come. So PEs aren't necessarily predictable by body type. Which, frankly, makes Terry's sudden death even more of a grave reminder to live every day to its fullest and to listen when your body is trying to tell you something. My brother thought he was having a bad bout of indigestion until he started having trouble breathing. Luckily, he went to the ER in time. Terry didn't have that chance.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Ethan said...

Holy crap. I remember Terry Armour from my life Up North, but haven't seen or heard him in some time. Sad.

We're doing what is intended to be our yearly new years eve ritual: Burning the 2007 calendar, talking about the highs and lows for the year, and looking ahead to 2008.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

I am so sorry, Beth. Sudden deaths of people who aren't that old can be earth shaking. And a bit scary. I am only two years younger than he was. I guess I should start taking better care of myself.

12:13 AM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Sorry for your loss. Those sudden ones are really rough.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Beth, it's Elida. On Friday afternoon I attended the funeral of a colleague's wife. She was 49 and died suddenly on Wednesday, leaving her husband and three children, including a 10-year-old daughter. When I came home, I learned of Terry's death (and you are right ... he could light up a room). Friday night, I learned my cousin, 45, had entered hospice care of end-stage breast cancer. She, too, has children, including a 10-year-old daughter. And, as I wrote in my Christmas card, my mom was diagnosed with cancer just before Thanksgiving. For Christmas, I have my mom a silver bracelet engraved with the words, "live each day like it's heaven on earth." There's the challenge for ALL of us in 2008 ... live, live, live because no day should be taken for granted.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Oh my gosh, Elida, I'm so sorry to hear about everything that's going on.

But you're so, so right: live, live, live.

Toward that end, we really should make a plan to get together in 2008. It's been too long.

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beth, you're so right about how sudden unexpected deaths can shake one to the soul. Michelle, the ex-Mrs. Andy passed away last Feb. from PE. I was shocked and even after 10 years of divorced life, devastated. The lesson I learned from her passing and those of children in my extended family is not to take life for granted.

Andy O.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Andy:

Tracy mentioned Michelle's passing to me and I was so sorry to hear about it.

I hope you're living life to the fullest in her memory.

Hugs,
Beth

2:59 PM  

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