By Fred Fields
Standard advice to a writer is to write about what we know. A familiar event in all our lives is the death of a friend or family member. Being such a passion-filled subject, it requires special care, and sensitivity, but it also requires honesty.
Recent events in my life have caused me to examine this very special subject with more interest.
In my life, counting schools and the Army, I've lived in seven states. Three were actually "home", West Virginia, Arizona, and South Carolina, and South Carolina has been home for me and my family for the last half century.
Last week, my family suffered two losses. On Monday, February 13, my mother's best friend from West Virginia died, and on Saturday, February 18, my best friend from Arizona followed her.
It is said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. As with many old sayings, we nod and say, "There's a lot of truth in that." But, there really isn't.
Mother and I were saddened by the loss of our friends. But we were not affected as deeply as were the locals who lived close to them. We both have many happy memories shared with them, but they touched our lives so rarely in the last few years, that their influence has been reduced to nothing but those memories, not often recalled. "Out of sight, out of mind," is another, truer aphorism.
I'm surprised at how casually my life is influenced by these losses. Time was when either of them would have turned my world upside down for a week. Today it's a call to the family, a condolence note, a call to mutual friends, "Include me in on the flowers and food." I'm astonished at my insensitivity, my lack of feeling.
Actually, my sympathy for the surviving families and friends is stronger than the sense of my loss of a friend. Sooner or later, we all die. We must expect that.
As I get closer to my time, my attitude toward death becomes more one of acceptance, and less of fear.
But it's not a happy thought.