Today, let’s talk about death.
Not that I’m an expert on death. That’s something I hope never to master.
But having witnessed death up close and then having experienced the aftermath — a deeply personal process which continues amidst chaos and confusion — I must admit it’s not at all what I expected.
Fact is, I’m not sure I knew what to expect.
Like I said, death is confusing.
The Petre Family in Bucharest, Romania, circa 1963. Ion Petre stands in the middle. Marieta is the little girl in front.
Ion Petre was born in Bucharest, Romania in 1952.
Despite growing up in a Communist country, Ion enjoyed a childhood filled with happy memories. His sister, Marieta (my wife) was born in 1961. Despite their nine-year age difference, they were inseparable for most of their lives. Wherever they lived, they talked and laughed often.
Ion was a dedicated student. He could have gone into just about any field of study and succeeded. But he enjoyed creating and building things most of all. And so, his dream was to become an engineer.
Ion served a mandatory tour of duty in the Romanian Army. Following his discharge, he attended one of the country’s most prestigious universities. He earned his diploma as a civil engineer.
Next, Ion made what would become a life-changing decision. Ion decided to leave Romania and immigrate to the West.
Monday mornings epitomize new beginnings. And so it was on October 7th, 2013. A new beginning.
But this particular Monday morning — so wonderfully warm and beautifully bright as the early hours are so often this time of year — was even more splendid. We were blessed with a special guest staying in our home. This was a rare intersection in all of our lives — to be together.
Ion Petre, my beloved brother-in-law, had come to visit us in Las Vegas from his home in Eindhoven, Holland. He was to stay with us for a months time. Oh, they joy of that. We tend to be a happy family, but the house was a more cheerful place with Ion around. He always had that amazing effect on the people around him.
We had so many exciting plans. So many shows to see. So many restaurants to visit. So many new places to go. So many new people to meet. Indeed, one of the great things about living in Las Vegas is experiencing things both old and new through those you love the most. It’s a far greater joy than seeing them alone by yourself.
The day was all planned out. This Monday morning was to include a short run in the 72-degree weather, followed by a lunch together at a favorite local Italian restaurant. We also considered making a hike up Lone Mountain that afternoon, which has a magnificent view of the entire Las Vegas Valley. That same evening, I was so excited to take Ion to meet many of my friends as a Monday Night Football watching party. It would have been Ion’s first time to watch American football. What a joy that would have been.
Such a full day. We had so many plans.