Life Is Fragile, So Handle with Care

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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As I write this, I just received word that a friend and co-worker passed away in his sleep last night. Unbelievable shock consumed me for several moments.

My friend was in his early 30s and a fairly healthy guy who’s been working at the same company since he was 16. The cause of death is unknown, but he seemed fine the previous day.

The loss of life is never easy, even when we might be expecting it. 

Another dear friend lost her daughter in late February due to heart complications brought on by Friedreich’s ataxia, the same disease I live with. The daughter was married and in her 30s, and her mother was a daily source of strength for her as they navigated life and the challenges brought by Friedreich’s ataxia.

At the celebration of life for my fellow FA Warrior, her mom admitted she believed this day would come, but that it didn’t make anything easier. 

Life is more fragile than I sometimes think it is. Even with a rare disease, I am constantly planning, at least mentally, for the average life span of 70 years or so. I often think about my retirement portfolio and a not-yet-realized career, and I plan for the “big picture” that always seems 10 to 20 years away.

At the same time, I know that life can change in a moment and without warning. My disease could send my heart into failure, my day job could expose me to the coronavirus, I could crash my trike and be paralyzed, or … the possibilities are endless.

We all know that death is a certainty, but I wonder if we’ve somehow convinced ourselves that we have more control over it than we really do?

If there is one thing I believe the pain and death of others allow for most of us, it is the opportunity to take stock of our own lives and evaluate what needs our attention and what we can let go of. Even without losing people I admire, the simplicity of staying home (aside from work) has caused me to evaluate my own priorities.

Although I enjoy going to the gym, meeting friends for dinner, catching a show here and there, and taking an occasional trip to the mall for something I must have right now, this shelter-in-place mandate has caused me to consider what might be important and what might be just noise to fill my routine.

Aside from the complicating, stressful, and concerning situations COVID-19 has forced upon us, I hope that you have taken the time and mental energy to identify what’s important to you, what’s valuable, and what’s fragile.

Handle those things with care.


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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