The words, a constant jumble in my head. Sentences in fragment form. Paragraphs I can't quite complete. Wondering's that don't go away. Regret that nags. Questions never ceasing. They pop up out of no where. Cleaning the kitchen, driving in the car. They are all a part of the process.
I have known 4 people that have died in my adult life time. My reaction to each different yet quite normal. There have been other people I have known that have died, but they were not personal to me.
My first experience with death was a good friend of mine. Todd and I were not friends that hung out on the weekends or called each other on the phone. We were co-workers who lived in the same apartment complex and commuted together to college at night. There were many things about each other we never knew. Personal details very left out, but experiences only the 2 of us could share. There was never any romantic feelings, I was married. We were just innocent friends trying to survive the realities of full time employment and full time college students together. For all the hours we spent in traffic, we should have known more details of each other's lives, but what we knew of each other was just the basics and what was happening in the present. That was enough. We never felt the need for more. After his death, I still don't. It was enough. I was sad and shocked when he died ( a car accident). I missed him dearly. I cried immediately. I cried at the service. I cried when his parents came down. I cried when much of the information from autopsy was shared and it was all information that I had learned in a dream a week before. Then I realized, this was my closer. This was my goodbye, my peace.
My second experience was the most painful. The first family member to have died. The one that I have few memories with but loved the most. The one that I knew the shortest amount of time but knew the best. The one that taught me the most about life, love, motherhood and God's love. My son, Andrew. His loss was one that I would pray never happens to anyone but at the same time, I am thankful for his life and loss. It took a while to get here, but I am at peace. I smile at the thought of my little guy up in heaven with the Lord and any other family members that he gets to play with. They are seeing him in ways that I never did but can see in my mind. I will play with him that way someday. Until then, I enjoy the brothers and sisters he has on earth. I cried the longest, hurt the most and longed for him in ways that many would never understand. 13 months later, Andrew watched his brother Adam enter this world and knew that mommy had closer, that her heart was healed. If you have ever been there, you know.
My third experience was when my great grandma died. I loved Grandma Bea. She was not the quintessential old lady. She had gusto even in her 70's and 80's riding across the country on the back of my uncle's motorcycle. In her 90's when her body began to hurt and memories became lost, she was still as sweet and wonderful though. And while I loved her dearly. Her death was not mourned but honestly a celebration of a wonderful life lived. She did not die, she truly went home. Peace was immediate for me after her death. There were no regrets. Katie was conceived the same week she passed away, her final gift to me :)
My Fourth loss is my Uncle Tommy. Peace is trying to fight it's way through. His voice assuring me he knew he was loved try to break through the thoughts that cloud my mind and make me human. There are regrets. That is hard since I don't life with regrets of any kind. I love where I am today and every experience good or bad that brought me here. After a week, I know it is too early for closure. Yet, I know it will come. I know this too is a process to get through. Acceptance for his death will happen. Tomorrow is the memorial service. This will help. I know he is not there but he will be there with us, I am sure. I will pay the babysitter. I never pay for babysitters, yet will do so tomorrow. Regrets for what we do for death that we don't do for life. I would have never paid for a babysitter to go to dinner with Uncle Tom. Yet, I do go to dinner with my grandma. I never had Uncle Tom over for just lunch and to play with the kids, yet my grandma is over weekly. Sadness for things meant to do. Does the season increase this? Peace will come, in what form, I don't know yet. Maybe cleaning out his house? Helping with the details of the estate? Time? I know that these are my doubts, never his. He was full of more peace and grace than anyone else I know. I trait to be learned from and strived for.
There are lessons we take from everyone in our life's. Some are big, others almost small enough to miss. Sadly, they may not be learned until separation from this person either voluntary or involuntary, like death.
Of course, the biggest lesson is to love and cherish your time together. Christmas time and always.
Today, yes today, pick up the phone and call the relative you don't normally call and just say HI! There age is irrelevant. Their reaction simply amusing. Your mind, heart, soul will be thankful. For the relatives already passed, just look upward and smile, they know.
There is peace and beauty in dying. It may take a while for those surviving to achieve it, but it does come. Until then, there is love.
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