Today I had the very sad and unfortunate duty to attend a viewing for someone I'd never met. Not only had I never met this person, we had absolutely nothing in common and were separated in age by more than 37 years. In truth, I only knew this person's father, but just barely. I had exchanged messages with Steve several times via a Yahoo group
for cyclists but had only met him once, for an organized ride at the end of April 2007. We rode together with a friend of Steve's for about 9 miles before the pace they were setting started to hurt me and I told them to go ahead and ride their ride. During that very short ride together we discussed the joys of being a new father; at the time, Brady was less than a month old and Steve's youngest daughter, Allison was a little less than 2 months old.
So here are two men who barely knew each other, the only two things they appear to have in common (based on the limited knowledge they have of each other) is that they are both new dads (the third time for Steve) and they both love cycling. So why then, one might ask, did I feel it was my duty to go to the viewing for Allison Grace Tedeshi, whom I'd never met and whose father I barely knew? This is a question I asked myself as I struggled to decide whether I should attend the viewing or not. After all, I wasn't even sure Steve would recognize me, and his wife surely wouldn't, having never met me. What comfort could I bring to this grieving family? I couldn't even fathom the thought of losing Brady (I tried and could not do it) let alone comprehend the inexplicable pain this family must be experiencing at the sudden, unexpected loss of their 4 month old daughter. In the end, I was compelled to go and express mine and Karrie's sympathy. Yes, it seemed silly considering they don't know me and chances are they wouldn't even remember I was there. But I went anyway.
And even though I never met Allison and barely knew her father, I wept, anyway. I wept because of the excruciating heartache this family was enduring. As I walked past the pictures the family had set out of their beautiful little girl, I wept. And as I passed the open coffin where Allison lay, I wept more. As I tried desperately to calm myself before coming to Steve and his wife Kelly, I realized why I was weeping. Yes, I was weeping out of compassion for this family's misfortune, but I was also weeping because at that moment I realized it could just as easily have been Karrie and I at the end of that receiving line. It was then that I saw very clearly that it could be any of us. As I expressed our condolences to Steve and Kelly and explained how I knew Steve, Kelly imparted these words to me: she said, "Love your baby, for us."
As I left the funeral home, weeping, I decided that Kelly's message was one worth passing on to those that I love. We all tell each other "I love you", sometimes multiple times a day, sometimes only once a year, sometimes even less. Its a nice thing to say as well as to hear, but sadly it is often spoken out of habit. I ask all of you today to please cherish every moment you have with those that you love, whether it be your children, your spouses, your parents, your grandparents or your friends. Tell them that you love them often, but show
them that you love them more often. Leave no doubt in their mind that you love them, and leave no doubt in your mind that they know you do, lest you regret it when they are gone.
To all my family and friends, I love you and starting today I will aim to do a better job of telling you and showing you. For this piece of enlightenment I am forever indebted to Allison Grace Tedeschi and her family.
Allison Grace Tedeschi - "Tinker Bell"
March 9, 2007 - July 8, 2007
Rest in peace and may God strengthen and comfort your family.