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In an Instant, They Are Gone

I have been writing commentaries for over 4 years, and in that time, I have probably written over 200 commentaries and appeared on over 2,000 radio and TV shows covering many subjects. You can see the variety of things I have written by going to my website,, and taking a look around. This commentary, however, is probably the most difficult I have ever written. It also has taken the longest to write because I have been thinking about it for a year. I can only imagine one more that would be almost impossible to write, and I will let you figure it out.

One year ago, my life, along with many other lives, changed forever. The time in 2018 from Memorial Day to Labor Day, I had five family members pass on. Of the 5, two were particularly important to me; they were my only two brothers-in-law. Both died of cancer. Leroy fought it for over 10 years, while Tom, whom I have known for more than 53 years, passed very quickly in a matter of months.

I was honored to be able to speak at Leroy’s wake and Tom’s Mass about my relationship with these two men. Both were veterans like me, but that was not what bound us together; it was respect and the shared interest of the family. At Leroy’s wake, I spoke about his kindness and generosity to other people and his unique place in heaven. Little did I know when I was standing talking about Leroy that in two months, I would be doing it again for Tom.

When Kathy, Tom’s wife, asked me to say a few words, the priest asked if I could send him what I was going to say. The night of the wake he told me, “I have read your notes and please say whatever comes into your heart.” That evening and the next morning, I could not find the message in my heart. I woke up and could hardly speak. I was concerned that I needed to say something about Tom, but had no voice and no idea. I went to Mass while sucking on lozenges, and as I was sitting in the pew, the message came to me.

I went to the pulpit and I said to the friends and relatives, “In an instant, they are gone, and my life and yours has been changed forever. We sit and we relive some of the great and not so great moments, and then it hits us, in an instant, there will be no conversations, no more golf games, no more birthdays, no holidays, and no family dinners. All we are left with is what was said and the thoughts of what could have been.”

I’m almost 74 years of age and I have lost both parents. For me that was difficult, but for some reason, the passing’s of my brothers in law hit me very hard. I think this was because these were people from my own generation, which caused me to think more about my own mortality. I know that Becky and Kathy will have a difficult time, as we all will as we remember their leaving us this summer and for summers to come.

As I reflect on these deaths, I ask myself, what did I learn? I could not affect the outcome of their illnesses. I tried to be of assistance whenever I could to the wives. The most important thing I learned from their passings is that life is short, and my life changed in an instant. No matter how hard I try, I can’t change the fact that when I’m gone, my wife’s, children’s, sisters’, and brother’s lives will also be changed in an instant.

I now will cherish and relish each moment with my wife, children, grandchildren, and my brother and sisters. We all know that our lives will change in an instant. Let’s hope that those who come after us will be prepared for the instant their lives will change.

Dan Perkins is an author, radio and TV talk show host, current events commentator, and philanthropist. His books are available on More information about him, his writings, and other works are on his website:

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