I learned these lessons when I lost my dad 15 years ago June 20th, again when I lost my mom 5 years ago. I actually found this on the Internet a couple years ago around this time of year, but never cross posted it then, since the blogger’s feelings then still seemed too raw to invade their private space, or as private as anything on the Internet ever is. They are no longer blogging, and that blog was deleted, but the words still speak to me.
I always get sad around this time of year, I always forget why and can’t figure it out, and then after a few days, it hits me. It’s that time of year again, when I faced the first major real loss of my life. And then, I always cry.
It’s an ignorant bliss if you’ve never yet lost someone close before. It’s not until a few weeks after that the reality soaks in. You think that you’re fine while the people visit and at the funeral, and then *cold slap* it’s not his booming voice saying, “hey!,” anxious energy, or pat on the back when they arrive through their front door or not that face that rounds the corner as expected. And all of the words that you ever read before about death and loss seem somehow not so cliche, less like rhetoric than before.
If you have experienced it before, you are forever after able to stand apart and feel almost removed from the situation, however compassionately, as you witness others being initiated as though it is a cruel hazing to make them hug and grieve their way up the line into this morose membership of “We Who Now ‘Get What Life is Really About’ Club.” Death reminds us that we are each a soul that comes in alone and departs the same. So there is a purpose to death, and that is to more fully love life.
Death of someone close opens one’s eyes. And it divides your life into two parts — that carefree and somewhat self-absorbed existence you knew before loss, and the now-imperfect one you are left with to more fully appreciate and parse through for little gems afterward, as though it is an endless beach from which you will forever be collecting special shells — you realize both mortality and immortality at the same time — what you lovingly place in your pocket while here (your earthly life), and what you can take in your heart when you transition to eternity. This is what my kids have learned from losing their Grandpa, my husband from losing his father.
I hurt for them and hate that they must now join the “club.” But I know Grandpa will leave them with this one last — and his best — lesson: to never take a day of your life for granted because you never know which will be your last day.