“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:18

A friend texted this verse to me the day my father died.  I just saw it again recently posted on Instragram or Facebook.  We all can probably connect with this verse in one way or another.  At the time of my father’s death I was totally devastated by the news.  Yes, my father was old (in his 80’s), but this particular death was totally unexpected.  And just 5 weeks (to the day) earlier my niece’s oldest son, Taylor, had passed away too.  They were both such heartbreaking losses… Taylor because he was so young (just turned 5) and my dad because of the circumstances (he had many illnesses in the last 25 years of his life but to die from a tragic accident?).

And just a little over a month ago Tony Schuster passed away.  He wasn’t my husband’s dad, but he was a man that was a father to my husband, Steve.  In fact, if you’ve followed our blog you may recognize the name Schuster.  Our first interview was with Becky Schuster.  Yep, the same Schusters.  My husband, Steve, grew up with Becky’s husband Jonathan, and Jonathan’s dad Tony was a father to Steve.  Thankfully, my husband had known Tony wasn’t doing well and was able to visit Tony in the hospital when we were in town at New Years.  Steve had a wonderful visit with Tony that day at the hospital.  Even though other relatives were around, he had a good visit recalling memories from his childhood and even getting a chance to pray with Tony before he left.  Does Steve have regrets about Tony’s death?  Possibly.  I haven’t really asked him.  I know he hasn’t spent a lot of time since we’ve been married cultivating the relationship with Tony since we live on the other side of the state.  But he was glad to have connected periodically with him over the years and was very thankful to be able to visit him in the hospital shortly before his death.  We didn’t know at the time that Tony would pass away so soon, but Tony had told Steve that he was ready to go to heaven so that made it somewhat easier I suppose.

I don’t have regrets about Taylor’s death either.  He had gone into the hospital in January 2013 and been diagnosed with FSGS later in January or early February.  He was later released from the hospital after his kidneys had been removed and went in 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) for dialysis while waiting for his kidney transplant.  The weekend before his death we had a family get together because some family was in from out of state.  Taylor had been doing well on his schedule for dialysis, and we had no idea this would be the last time we would see him.  But we had a good evening and enjoyed seeing him and saying good bye as they left.  Still a heartbreaking death, but no regrets there.  We had visited him in the hospital every chance we got and saw him just two days before his death.

But when my father passed away, I was filled with regret.  I guess a different kind of brokenhearted.  I wished I had made the hour trip up to see him more often in the past months.  I had been going up once a week after my mom’s stroke and that had tapered off as she recovered.  At the time my father died, I hadn’t been there in a while and with my dad working on Saturdays, when we were up for the weekends at different times, I wasn’t able to see him much then either.  And then he was just gone.  No chance to say goodbye.  I hadn’t seen him in the hospital knowing he might pass away soon.  And I hadn’t seen him just two days ago even though we hadn’t known his death was near.

Take the opportunities you get!  Don’t live life with possible regrets!  You don’t know when will be the last time you see a loved one.  You don’t know when will be the last chance to just go out for ice cream with your group of friends.  You don’t know when will be the last time to even say a loving word to someone that you hardly know from youth group.  Accidents happen every day.  Take every chance you get to share God’s love with a family member, friend or even an acquaintance!