I received a reminder this week of just how precious life is when my friend, Rodney Reif, lost his wife, Mary, unexpectedly at age 47 to a heart attack.
I started going to school with Rodney at age 5 at Carrollton Elementary School. I played basketball with him and was on the track team in grade school, then played high school basketball with him. He is a farm boy and a devoted member of Eldred Baptist Church. We have been good friends since I was a kid and always have been able to talk about anything.
Rodney married Mary on April 26, 1986, and they marked their 25th wedding anniversary last year at Disney World with their two children, Katherine and Jennifer. He said he now is very thankful that they were able to spend that time together.
I called Rodney and talked to him on Thursday night, and it was very painful. I don’t want to reveal too much of our conversation, but he said he was still in “shock” about what had happened and was walking around in a “fog.” I completely understand that. Rodney rushed Mary to the hospital in Carrollton on Wednesday morning when she started showing symptoms of heart problems. She walked into the hospital, but unfortunately, once she laid down to be treated, she must have had a massive coronary attack and died instantly. Rodney and his family had no time to prepare for the loss of their loved one because it happened so quickly.
Mary was a supporter of Girl Scouts and performing arts at Carrollton schools, and she truly loved people. She worked recently at Tri County Farm Supply as a bookkeeper. Rodney said he and Mary were perfect for each other from the very beginning. Within three months of their meeting, he asked her to marry him, and they were married within a year. I identified with that because I did the same thing with my wife, Victoria.
I don’t know if anything can prepare anyone to cope with what happened to Rodney this week, but he said the only way to get through it is “faith,” something I know Rodney and his family have always had.
I encourage friends of Rodney and Mary to take Rodney and his family some food or any kind of help he might need in the coming days. I also encourage those who take their relationships for granted to kiss their spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend goodbye each day when they go to work and don’t forget the simplest of words: “I love you.”
While those three words are some of the easiest to say, we often forget to say them, and we want to make sure we do say it before it is too late. I have already put Rodney and his family in my thoughts and prayers and encourage everyone else to do the same.