From time to time, everyone is touched by the fragility of life, that is, the sudden death of someone who was supposed to live a long and happy life. Just a couple of days ago, the tech world was stunned by the death of SurveyMonkey CEO, David Goldberg, age 47, who died while on a family vacation. In the news today, the autopsy is showing that he apparently had a heart arrhythmia, and his death may not have wholly been the result of head trauma after his fall from a treadmill. Still, his family and colleagues are shocked at his sudden demise. The unexpected death leaves survivors with a tremendous sense of loss, and especially, the missed opportunity to say ‘goodbye.’
Our Burbank High ’68 classmate, Roger Guggenheimer, is grieving, following the sudden loss of his son, Clayton. In a Facebook post he wrote:
“For those who have not heard or may not know, we lost our 20 year old Clayton yesterday. He was in a terrible car crash, which took him from us way before his time. He was a beautiful, gentle, and kind soul. May he rest in peace.”
The loss of a child, no matter what age, is absolutely devastating. I know firsthand — my first child died two hours after birth — our grief was unimaginable and we were inconsolable. There is a website called GriefHaven, which is a support group for parents whose children have died. The author writes: We are parents who are traveling this unwanted path of grieving the loss of our children. None of us want to be here. Whether your child was with you for fifteen minutes or 50 years, the end result is the same. Your beloved child is gone, and now you are left to pick up the pieces and go on.
You are invited to write messages of condolence and comfort to Roger in the Comments section below.
Yesterday classmate Steve Raine wrote to me, “As we experience more and more the passing of our classmates, I want to suggest that we invite people to share their own ‘Obits’ now, while they/we are still here. No one can share our lives, our lives’ preciousness, and our deepest values, joys and loves better than we, ourselves, can. Plus, it might help us to more intently realize the reality of our mortality, and maybe strive to give a few more hugs, and smell the roses a bit more.”
When I was asked to write this blog by the BHS’68 Reunion Committee three years ago, it was my hope that I would reach out to every single classmate, and “tell your story.” Especially as we all pass or are about to pass that magic age of 65 this year, our own immortality is staring us in the face. How would you like to be remembered? What do you want on your epitaph? You can use the Contact Us form above, or simply write to me here. I especially would appreciate hearing from you if you have also lost a child. Our hearts are with you, and with Roger.