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A Man Dropped Dead On My Flight


“Life is too short to put it off anymore”


What if this was your very last day on earth?  Would you be doing what you are doing right now?


I confronted that question a little over a year ago when I turned fifty and was reminded of it yet again by Troy Gentry’s unexpected passing, also at age fifty. A tragedy on so many levels, the significance and timing of Troy’s death couldn’t have bumped up against yet another monumental milestone for me nor a more shocking turn of events. The combination would ultimately bring me to a place of ease and resolution much more quickly than I could have ever anticipated.


You see, a few days following the news regarding the helicopter crash that took Troy Gentry’s life, my youngest daughter and I boarded a plane that would bring us to a far away land -- California. This die-hard east coaster had made this trek many times before but never with the intention of dropping my youngest daughter off for good. The last of the original four kids I shared with my late husband, Isabel grew up with visions of college, life, and possibly stardom wooing her over to the west coast.


Tears streaming down my face throughout the entire trip, I understood her need to achieve her dreams all too well, having set that precedent in my own life and then watching my older three children do the same. Now Isabel was ripe with excitement and determination. The final apple ready to fall (less her little brother, ten years her junior), it was all that I could do to refrain from becoming a complete sap upon letting her go.


Settling her in would eventually give way to lots of hugs, temporary good-byes, and a brief wait in the airport accompanied by thoughts of Troy Gentry, the dreams he had lived and those he never would, and a special song he and Eddie Montgomery recorded together, While You’re Still Young. I urge you to listen to it. The heart of this song rings so true especially at that particular moment as I watched my dear daughter live up to every last word.


A sense of calm and comfort, immediately, washed over me. Had I any languishing concerns in leaving Isabel behind, they were now gone. In their place resided the knowledge that she was doing what she needed to do and I had prepared her aptly to fly. We were now both doing so in the required ways -- me, back to Connecticut and Isabel, onto the rest of her life.


Knowing this became my solace when boarding my return flight. The sudden and shocking death of another passenger booked on that flight -- that sorta added the exclamation point to my entire internal conversation. Sad but true. Talk about a split second of absolute clarity.


It begs me to prod you to think about your own life, your many unrealized dreams, and the finite nature of time as well as to remind you that “It is never too late...until it is!”


Troy Gentry sang it. My deceased airborne friend encompassed it, unexpectedly. And Isabel subscribes to it. What about you?


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