This past Tuesday, I attended a funeral, and it was quite an emotional experience. So many feelings and thoughts swirled within me. The funeral was for a girl I had attended elementary school with. I was in the same class as her older brother, and she was one or two grades behind me. I have fond memories of visiting their house during breaks and staying for dinner after school. Our parents are still close friends to this day.

She passed away after a nearly two-year battle with cancer, which is undeniably sad. I knew about her cancer, but deep down, I held onto hope for her. I always believed she would be okay. Unfortunately, she lost her battle and passed away on September 30th. I hadn’t seen her in many years, but our parents continued to meet for birthdays and dinners. As we grew older, we all pursued our own lives.

When my parents called me last week to inform me of her passing, I was in shock. My parents had kept me updated on her condition, but in a way, I was in denial. I suppose I felt she would be okay, as she had a husband and two young children. I may have been in denial because her passing seemed unreal. She was only two years younger than me and had turned 33 in August.

My parents showed me the funeral invitation, which had a message written by her. It appeared as though she was fully prepared for her departure. The message said it felt like she had been running a marathon but failed, that her candle had been lit and then blown out, that she had experienced pain along with joy in the last moments of her life, and most importantly, that she was loved. Reading that message on the card brought me to tears.

I discussed this with my parents and reminisced about our childhood. I remembered visiting their house, watching cartoons with her and her brother, even playing with her and her Barbie dolls when I was about 10 years old. My parents and I would visit them up north at their camping trailer and have barbecues at their house during the summer. They always had barbecues on their fireplace. While the grown-ups chatted, we’d go upstairs to play computer games or watch television in her parents’ bedroom.

This whole experience was overwhelming and emotionally draining for me. Two days have passed since the funeral, and I still can’t stop thinking about life and death.

The funeral service was beautiful, and I’m sure it was exactly what she wanted. As we arrived at the church, I heard Adele’s “Someone Like You” playing, which gave me goosebumps. Near the end of the service, her request, “November Rain” by Guns ‘n Roses, was played. It’s not a typical funeral song, but I understood why she chose it. The song evoked even more emotions.

What made me even sadder was seeing her two little girls, aged 3 and 5. They were playing around, seemingly unaware of what was happening. They were just trying to be in the moment, living life the only way they know how, while their mother lay in a coffin. I felt a sense of confusion and heartbreak for them. They’re so young.

This whole experience has left me emotionally drained, and I’ve discussed it with my parents. Life is short and often unfair, making me reflect on my own life. It all feels so surreal, like a nightmare. She was at the prime of her life, had a family, and two little girls who will grow up without their mother.

It reminds me that no matter the setbacks or chaos in my life, there’s always someone who has it much worse. I shared this thought with my parents, and my mom suggested that we shouldn’t dwell on things that bring us down. Instead, we should live life to the fullest, be with the people we love, and do what we enjoy.

I just can’t fathom the pain and suffering she had to endure, alongside her family. It saddens me to the core. I believe she’s in a better place now, free from pain and suffering, flying with the angels who will watch over her two children and her husband.

This experience has served as another wake-up call for me. Life is short, and we often believe we deserve more than we have. But what if we already have what we need?

It’s something to ponder. That’s all I have to say for now.

Rest in peace, Petra.