The Coronavirus and Covid-19 have disrupted our lives immensely for about six weeks. You are most likely tired of talking about it and reading about it. Regardless of when or where it actually started, for most of us, it came out of nowhere. It locked us in our homes, closed many of our businesses, and left many without a paycheck and some getting their food for the first time ever from food banks. We still do not know when to expect the worst of this to end. But we know it will end. Most of us will return to normal, although many are thinking it will be a new normal. But nonetheless, this is not permanent. Unlike death.
Our family suffered an unimaginable loss this week. Our son-in-law Stephen’s younger brother and best friend, Robby, died unexpectantly from a heart attack at the age of 41. He leaves his loving wife Candi, sons John Morgan and Bradlee, parents Jane and Steve, sister Ginger and her son Kaden, and our children, Tara and Stephen and our granddaughters, Robby’s beloved nieces, Mary Grace, Elsie, and Virginia to cherish his memory. There are also several communities that have flooded Facebook and Instagram with love wishes and stories of the wonderful man, family man, law enforcement officer, and coach that he was. We should all hope to leave the legacy that Robby Kinney left.
Death feels so final for the family left behind. As a Christian who believes “Absent from the body, present with the Lord,” death is not final, ultimately. But it certainly feels final when it stares you in the face when you are still in earthly form and your loved one is gone. All of the beliefs that one has about the hereafter provide comfort, but the physical loss is still severe.
If you knew that you would soon face losing your spouse/partner, parent, child, grandparent, or other loved one, would you do anything differently? Would you live your life knowing there will be no earthly tomorrow with them? Would you embrace the knowledge that the only time you have is the here and now? We do not know when that might happen. Surely you have heard the phrase, “Our lives can change on a dime.” The Kinney family can attest to that, for in an unbelievable moment in time this week, they lost Robby.
I had a different post prepared for this week, but it did not seem right to post it when our family’s loss occurred. I considered not posting this week. But when I am troubled, I write. And I am so troubled. And since I have shared so much with my readers over the five years through this blog, it seems appropriate to share this. My goal in all of my writing is to help. Perhaps these insights from our family’s grief can be of help to others.
First, time stands still. When it’s over, it’s over. We have no more time. No more time to call, write, or visit. No more time to be with others. No more time. When it’s over, will it have been enough time? No, never enough. But will we have enough memories to sustain us, to remember all that we want to remember of our loved one, enough to share with others? If our loss is our spouse, our children’s parent, we will want enough memories to share with them as they grow without the presence of their father. Robby Kinney’s life included such wonderful memories for his family. Never enough, though. When Robby’s wife, children, parents, and siblings and their families began their day on April 28th with Robby, none would imagine their day would end without him.
There is comfort in the knowledge that Robby’s legacy lives on, a legacy of love, kindness, and honor, so those loved ones he leaves behind have so much of which to be proud. Not proud in a boastful way, but pride with humility. Robby Kinney pride.
There is the knowledge that life is unpredictable and also predictable. Death, even ours, is predictable, although it is unpredictable in that we do not know when or how. Do we live our life with this knowledge, or continue to act as if we have unlimited time? If we acted with the knowledge that our life and the lives of our loved ones can end at any time, would we do anything differently? I think we all know the answer. While it is fresh on our minds at times like the untimely and unexpected death of a loved one, we are suspended in time, and our priorities are crystal clear. Yet, once our life moves on, as it will for it must, will we live any differently?
The Coronavirus and Covid-19 will end soon for all of us, although not soon enough. We will have a new normal. The death of a loved one never ends for us. Yes, we will have a new normal from the death of our loved one, for our lives will never be the same. But the loss will be with us forever.
Hold fast to your loved ones. Treasure the moments. Make lots of memories. And please keep the Kinney family in your thoughts and prayers as Robby Kinney’s life is honored.