Dying, a slice of life, is a harder slice to swallow. I lost my dad when I was 21. My sister was 16 and my brother 19. It was my first funeral. My first up-close experience with death. I struggled. I got help. Over the past 23 years, I have crafted a wonderful life and carry my memories of my dad close to my heart. I still miss him my dad now and again. I miss him for everything big thing that has happened to me after his death, my graduation, my wedding, my doctorate, and my daughter, who has his hazel eyes. I still miss him for the little things he would love black licorice at Christmas, halukis on his birthday, and a Florida State victory over Florida. I still mark the day of his passing.
Since my dad's death, I have had more experience with mortality. There is no handbook, just things you learn that matter. When my best friend's brother died off mysterious reasons in the woods, I told her there was no request too crazy. We ended up hiking together in the woods to where he was found to confirm it, to make sure it was real. My friend lost her daughter. It was quick and tragic. It was hard. I too told her no request was too crazy, the lesson I learned from my own loss.
In the years since, I've lost my grandmother, my grandfather, and an uncle. I am close to losing an aunt as I write this. She's too young. She will be horribly missed by those she leaves behind, especially her children. Death is always hardest for those left behind. We, the survivors, pick up the pieces in the best way that we can, no grieving process the same. We do, however, celebrate our loved one's life in every step forward that we take. No one can carry another through that journey, but one can quite simply hold a hand while they go through it. Hold it tight. The living through-it process is long and interminably hard. Your life doesn't end when the person leaves you and their life doesn't end when they leave you.
What I've learned this time around is that if someone asks you that question...that "what would you do if you had six months, 3 months, 6 weeks to live" question, consider your answer carefully. If given that sentence, you just might not be able to do those things. Don't wait! Act on those answers now.