Nobody Understands Death Until Death Arrives

Philip Pappal Marion Center PA Aberdeen SD obituary Creekside
Although I have seen his recent photos on Facebook over the last couple years, teenage Philip is the image that has always stayed in my mind.

A friend texted me this morning about the death of a classmate from high school, Philip Pappal. Just last night I was reading posts about plans for our 25th class reunion, and thinking how lucky we’ve been that we haven’t lost more of our class.

We lost George while we were still just teenagers, to a car wreck on Ambrose Road. We lost Donnie, our sweet and larger than life Donnie, “the mighty Zigwa!” to meningitis when we were barely out of college.

Now is the age, I’ve been told, when we begin to lose loved ones. I always thought that losing my father at a young age conditioned me to understand death better, but the truth is, nobody understands death until death arrives.

Those of us left behind each have to find our own meaning, hope or connection.

I went to Philip’s facebook page, unable to believe that this guy who would message me when he thought of something interesting I might want to write, could really be gone so suddenly. I thought about how lousy I am with my response time: to emails, to facebook messages, to texts. When did life become so busy that the last twenty-five years went by so fast that I still see Philip as a teenager when I think of him?

Among the many messages of Rest in Peace and goodbyes to Philip, his last post stood out. Despite his own pain and suffering from years of Diabetes and heart problems, he was issuing a call for prayers for someone other than himself.

The other thing sitting quietly on his page was his last use of Spotify. He had last listened to “Wrong Way” by Sublime. I wanted to share that last listen here, but also to share our mutual music love: Johnny Cash.

It’s the only way I know how to say goodbye. Rest in Peace, Philip.

Love, Marla

Readers, don’t reach out to me. If you want to lift up your love, lift it up for Philip’s family, and for others in pain and Diabetes complications.


4 thoughts on “Nobody Understands Death Until Death Arrives

  1. I’m sorry, Marla. Coincidentally, I woke up this morning thinking about some people from high school that have passed. I did not attend my 20th HS reunion this past summer, but I lurked around the FB group that was up as it was being organized. It was terrible to see how many people from my graduating class are now gone (that’s maybe more than 20 people gone before they hit 40 years old). It’s actually how I found out someone who I’d been *very* close to (and actually was in a couple-year relationship with after HS) had died a few months previously (massive heart attack at 38; can you believe that?). We’d had a stupid falling out ten years ago. That hit me *hard.* I’m still dealing with that. Yeah…it’s hard to lose people that were around when we were forming ourselves, whether they were particularly close or not. It’s like someone going through your Life Lesson Book and randomly blacking out sentences and whole paragraphs. =(

    1. Thank you for understanding and relating to this, and honestly phrasing it even better than I understood it myself. It really is like that, and while Philip and I weren’t as close as some other classmates, it is exactly what you said about people who were there when we were forming ourselves.
      That was one of the most beautiful comments I’ve ever read. Please use those lines in your writing.

      1. Aw, man…and what with my thinking about this this morning, you almost made me get a little weepy. No! I refuse. I’m gonna go annoy the cat now…that’s always a cheerer-upper. 😉

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