Let it happen

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

No matter how hard you try, you can’t stop nature from happening. Today I was doing some painting to repair damage from an old leaky chimney when I got a phone call. My niece’s daughters were both frantically trying to call me. They finally called someone else I know who was able to get hold of me.

When I called them back, I found the sad news that their mother had passed away after a lengthy illness. I knew it was coming, and with all I’ve learned about life and death and the continuity of life after death, I still found myself sobbing, even before I got off the phone.

To begin with, she is not a blood relative, but a niece by marriage. I have known her almost 40 years, and she is no less family to me (maybe more so) than anyone I am actually related to. We’ve been through thick and thin, and she’s been there for me in the hardest time in my life, even when it seemed like no one else cared. I’ve been there for her, too.

Over the years, she and I, and her kids, and grandkids have grown up together. We spend hours talking on the phone about important things and about nothing. I know her entire family, and she knows most of mine. When I moved to North Carolina, she was one of the few folks who ever bothered to take the 9 hour drive from back home to come visit.

I got an email from her just a few days ago to let me know about something. It was just a quick message – nothing that needed a response, but now I feel bad that I didn’t call her back. I’ll never have that chance now.

After some hard tears, I went back to my repair project, and started cleaning up the mess I had made. I thought of a song from back in the 70s: Fire and Rain by James Taylor. Except for the woman’s name, the song reflected word for word what I was feeling at that moment.

I decided to do something drastic. I reactivated my Facebook account, which had been shut down for the past four months. And I made a post to share the music video of James Taylor singing the song. I wrote the post like a Long Distance Dedication – the kind that Casey Kasem used to read each week on his weekly American Top 40 radio broadcast years ago.

It was a perfect way to honor the moment, and give her space to move on to the next phase of her journey. I don’t know if or when I will go back and see what kind of response I got. I’ve made it very clear that I don’t like it when people say, “I’m sorry for your loss.” I haven’t lost anything. I’ve gained 40 years of friendship that I wouldn’t trade for the world. It isn’t my place to be greedy and expect more. This is what I got, and it was perfect, just the way it was.

I’ve written before about death, and how afraid people are of it. While we are learning to live, we should also learn how to die. Death is not something to be afraid of. It is a natural part of life. In fact, it’s the only part of life we can truly count on, so why not embrace its existence and its inevitability, and celebrate it when it happens.

I don’t know when her celebration will be, but I know it will be joyous, even if we do shed a few tears while we are partying. I’ve already heard through the grapevine that there will be lots of people invited. We will be enjoying the only life we have, while we have it, while she stands with us to remind us how precious it all is.

When it happens, let it happen. Instead of regretting what is no longer possible, be thankful for what was. It’s all a gift. Every minute of every day. Tell your loved ones how much you love them. Spend time with them. Enjoy their idiosyncrasies. Eat cake!

And when it’s time to go, say goodbye gracefully, thankfully, happily. Your loved ones aren’t gone. You just don’t see them anymore.

Many blessings..

Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone
Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can’t remember who to send it to

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time, my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around
Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you baby, one more time again, now
Thought I’d see you one more time again
There’s just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I’d see you, thought I’d see you, fire and rain, now…

Lyrics by James Taylor

Make time

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Every week, I do my best to make time for things that I need to do. I have a tendency to be a procrastinator, so scheduling time to deal with life makes sure things get done. Monday tends to be the best day to do these things, because I am almost guaranteed to have the entire afternoon free.

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Do the right thing

Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

Sometimes you just have to do the right thing. During the past year of the coronavirus pandemic, we have been exposed to so much frustration. Frustration from not being able to do “normal,” frustration from people not wanting to respect science or other people’s safety, frustration from isolation. It happens on so many levels. Yet, somehow, we have managed survive a year of life as we never imagined it. I’m not saying there aren’t scars, but it’s amazing how resilient we are.

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(TLDR: Read it anyway. It’s that important.)

I feel alone right now. Perhaps more alone than I have ever felt. Or at least in a way I have never experienced. As I have sat in tearful contemplation today, I learned a little bit more about humanity – a difficult little piece of humanity that is sometimes hard for many of my fellow citizens who look like me to relate to because we’ve never had to worry about experiencing anything like what we have seen in the news this week.

Continue reading “Alone”
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