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Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: Death comes to everyone

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It’s been a rough two weeks. I have been surrounded by heartache and death. “To love what death can touch is an act of courage.” A line from a Hebrew prayer I love is so true. C.S. Lewis said, “The joy of today is the pain of tomorrow.”

Two weeks ago, my niece died after a long and torturous struggle with cancer. She was 44 and left her husband, four-year old child, and extended family. Her goal while alive was to create a bank of mother memories with her daughter -- just enough time for the child to remember her mother.

Since March, I had been attempting to reach a dear friend, a person who always responded to letters and phone calls. Since the lock down, she had been silent. Recently I called again, feeling something had to be afoot. Then the phone rang and I saw her name, relieved. When I answered, her voice was strange. “What’s up?” I asked. “You know the back trouble I had?” “Yes,” I replied. “It’s ALS.” A silence fell over us. In the shock, I had no words of comfort to offer. Silence was the better choice. “I am quadriplegic.” In a matter of 7 months, her life is changed

Death and tragedy teach me about life. I see what’s really important in the world. The American belief that it happens to someone else is false. We are all mortal and each day, every moment, is a gift.

I know I will die. What really matters is how I choose to live in the time I have left.

I’m Lou Ness, and that’s my Perspective.