Today I found out that one of my colleagues–no, one of my friends–in the English department died last Wednesday. She was only 51, and she died after a blood clot in her leg traveled to her lungs. I was completely stunned when I got the email. No way could it be true. Surely there was some sort of mistake; she couldn’t be gone. But she is, and she’s left behind a husband and two children and a new grandbaby who all love her and will miss her dearly.
I haven’t had much experience with death; in my short 25 years of life, I can count on one hand the people I have known who have died. Nina Nell is one with whom I interacted on a fairly regular basis. We shared conversations in class, in Starbucks, in the departmental computer lab, and every time we talked I felt cheered by her kindness and her genuine warmth and concern. She spoke lovingly of her family, and she was so proud and excited when her grandson was born, excitedly showing me pictures and looking forward to visits she would make to see her family. Everyone who knew her at UT loved her; you couldn’t help but do so. I’ll always think of her with fondness.
Our lives, wrote James, are but vapors–here one moment, gone the next. I know that Nina Nell’s was a life lived with love for her family and friends, and I pray she knew Jesus. My one regret is that I never bothered to ask. Learning of a death like this renews my appreciation for life and inspires me not to take for granted the ones I love. Cherish each moment–each laugh, each smile, each hug, each tear–for you do not know when it will be your last.