Death is part of life, this is true. We cannot avoid it. Throughout our lives, we will lose people, and eventually, it will be our turn. In less than one month’s time, my family has experienced two great losses. The first was one of my mother’s closest friends. Our families were always together, all of my childhood, and as her children and I all moved away to start our own lives, we have remained close. After a short illness, she died very suddenly and unexpectedly. Nobody got a chance to say goodbye, save for a couple of her close girlfriends who had been there that day and the previous day to care for her. But even they did not expect this.
The other was my sister-in-law’s father. He passed away after suffering so greatly from cancer that they found last summer. He fought and struggled so valiantly and I can only hope that he is in a place of peace and comfort now. My heart aches for my sister in law and her family, as he will be greatly missed.
I had forgotten how much work it is to go through the grieving process. Just as I think I might be feeling better, the tears come again. There are 5 stages to the grieving process, and I believe I am now in the depression stage, which is stage 4. The good thing, is that eventually I will be in the acceptance stage, there is only one way to go now which is up.
I came across the following post by a dear friend in the blog she used to have with some friends. I am hoping she is OK with me sharing it here. When I found it again, I cried so much. I know the tears are healing and they need to come, and I should not fight them. I will leave you with this thought, as it pretty much sums it all up.
On Friday, a husband and four grown children encircled the hospital bed that contained their wife and mother. Since the beginning of humanity, I imagine that loved ones have gathered around the dying in this way, speaking gentle words, smoothing a forehead, holding a cool hand, beckoning those who have gone before to act as ushers into the next world.
She was too young for this, not even 70, but lung cancer knows nothing of age. She was a beloved wife, the mother of three sons and a daughter, the grandmother of six, the great-grandmother of one. She played softball and loved to bowl. My friend, one of her sons, said that she fought to continue living for over a year.
I read her obituary yesterday, and in it her family asked that instead of sending flowers, just live your life to the fullest, do something you love, and hug your family.
Two days later, 100 miles due south, a 43 year old man watched his mother and his fiancee have breakfast together. His own breakfast was administered by a feeding tube. His inability to eat by mouth was the result of extensive surgeries to cure what was originally a cancerous area on the base of his tongue.
It was a pleasant morning nonetheless. Unable to speak for some months now, he had recently managed to squeak out the words I love you to his young son. The boy, overwhelmed with happiness, had jumped up and down on the couch, breathless and joyful. “Did you hear that Grandma?! Daddy said he loves me!”
Despite surgery, chemotherapy, and experimental treatments, a mass lurked in the dark secret places of his neck, pressing on his carotid artery. The growing mass systematically eroded the layers of that artery, and as he walked slowly into the bathroom on Sunday morning, the final layer was irreversibly compromised. His fiancee, alerted only by an uncharacteristic cough, went to check on him. She found him there and called his mother, my own husband’s aunt, who held him in her arms as his final moments came to pass.
Is it too much to hope that the last image his consciousness was able to hold was that of his son? Perhaps his mind’s eye even replayed his son’s joyful leaping as he uttered the words every child longs to hear…I love you.
It is always hard to be reminded that we are connected to this existence by such a fragile tether. As I kissed my own son’s pink cheek last night, I was even more thankful than I always am for the opportunity. As I walked past my bathroom scale, I realized how insignificant its numbers actually are – the weight of my life means so much more. As I climbed into bed next to my dear sweet husband, I took a moment to see clearly what a blessing he is to our lives.
Live your life to the fullest. Do something you love. Hug your family. Sometimes the simplest advice is truly the best.