I didn’t want to write this blog. I mean, I was really trying to avoid it. I didn’t want to talk about that life lesson we’ve all heard a million times. You know which one I mean:
Hug the people you love because you never know if this is the last time you will see them.
No matter how many times we hear it, we all seem to fall back into our old habits of taking each other for granted.
So that’s why I didn’t want to write about my dear friend, Jill Morganthaler. I didn’t want to fall into that old cliché.
But I couldn’t help myself because I can’t seem to think of anything else…
Some people told me I screamed when I heard the news. Jill had suddenly and unexpectedly died while scuba diving. She was on vacation with her husband. I refused to believe it, even after someone showed me the Facebook message that her brother posted.
“It must be a mistake,” I said. “Someone is playing a sick joke on us.”
But my kind, caring friend, the one holding the phone up for me, shook his head slowly, whispering: “It’s not a joke.”
Jill was a retired Army Colonel who served 30 years in the Army. She was an Iraq vet and had a stare-down with Saddam Hussein as he was leaving the courtroom. She was one tough woman. Over the years I heard stories of her triumphs and her defeats; of her happiness and her fears. We shared victories when we won the Toastmasters contest together and drank martinis before heading to our meetings. She was powerful and forceful – you always knew when Jill was in the room. She was bigger than life itself.
So, I’m not going to tell you to hug the people you love – you already know that. Instead I am just going to be content with the memories and lessons that Jill has etched in my heart. She lived life to the fullest. Even in the last hour of her life, she was doing what she loved – scuba diving. Even in her death, she is leaving behind a story to be told. We are all better for having known her. I know my life will never be the same.
Rest in Peace, my Dear Friend.