Sad news? You can say that again.

Young girl crying on shoulder of a young man

Over the years our Beaumont Parenting Group has given us so much. Lifelong friendships for parents and children alike. Countless hours of helpful tips and just that comforting feeling knowing we can pick up the phone, or send an email to get a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on.

Recently an email titled “Sad News” rocked our small group — our extended Beaumont family — to the core. We lost a member. You may wonder why we’d get an email about such a sad subject and not a call. Nor did we head to the house to comfort our friend’s husband. Well, we had the pleasure of meeting an amazing family from Germany when they were assigned to our group while the dad was in the States working for one of the Big Three.

We learned of our friend’s death via email, one of the toughest emails a husband would have to write about his wife. The email was as straightforward, yet kind, as the person who wrote it. He didn’t sugarcoat anything; he ripped the Band-Aid off fast, told us of the news, and proceeded to answer all the questions he knew we’d have because he had them two days earlier.

How? Why? Are their two daughters OK? How can we help from half a world away?

He answered them as best he could. They didn’t know why, but suspected a heart attack. The girls were at their grandparents’ when the tragedy happened. And the family is working with the doctors to make sure this doesn’t happen to other families. He even took the time to let us know that he and his wife kept up-to-date with everyone via social media; he was trying to comfort us when he just lost his wife. I both love and hate him for that because if there was a time to be selfish, this was it!

Learning that someone who’s going through exactly what you’re going through — two daughters, great spouse — has died puts things in a different light. You try to relax a little more, you squeeze a little tighter on hugs, and you get frustrated quicker when you don’t see people making the most of things.

Soon after we got the sad news, I went camping with my college friends like we have for over a decade. As I walked into the cabin, I overheard someone ask how our neighbor was doing and his response was, “Just another day.”

Any other time, I would have just kept walking, but it gave me pause. I wanted to run over and scream at the guy and say, “That’s right it’s just another day. Go make the best of it!”

We only get one shot at this life thing, so why not make the best of it? Take that walk, start that hobby you’ve always wanted to. Our kids mirror us in so many ways, let’s make it the best reflection.

Rest well, friend. We all miss you and celebrate that our paths crossed for a reason. And to those you left behind, we love you and you’ll always have family waiting for you in the States.

– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.

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