A good friend of mine is terrified of flying. She is very attentive to any news of plane crashes or "incidents." After there have been three, she relaxes somewhat, because bad things come in threes.
My rational self says such ideas are silly, but the past few months have given testament to this superstition. Three people have died this summer who have touched my life. The first death was Mike Young, a talented comedian and graphic designer in Philadelphia. A brain tumor stole his life and robbed his wife and young son of an incredible soul. The second death was Uncle Len, my husband's uncle. Len was at our wedding - the jovial, good natured jokester. Len was an important figure in Jon's life, and I'm sorry that we won't be able to enjoy future Christmases at his house.
The third I just learned of. My University's president died yesterday in a swimming accident. Kermit Hall has been president of my University almost 2 years. He was energetic, had vision, and worked very hard to promote the University at Albany in our community and to the state legislature. His work paid off in a line item in the budget desparately needed to upgrade my decaying concrete campus. He pushed to increase the number of tenure-track faculty on campus by 100 over the next 5 years. He was also a distinguished legal historian, with an impressive research career.
President Hall's death will have tremendous impact on my campus. We were gaining momentum and hope under his leadership; Now that will stall as we move to an interim president. Having lived under one interim president before Hall was appointed, it is clear that they generally stay the course until a new president is appointed. So, the progress we were making, including a stronger family leave policy that I worked very hard on for the past two years, now will be on hold.
His death, like Mr. Young's, shakes my assumption that life is a given as I go about my daily routines. One day you could be enjoying coffee on the deck with the Sunday newspaper, and the next day . . . . All the more reason to push boundaries, to get out of comfort zones, to help others, to better yourself, and your world.
All three of these men who have died this summer enacted the virtue of a life lived fully. May we all strive to be so vivid.