Life is precious. You know I must say that phrase about twenty or more times a day. You only have to listen to the radio or watch the 6 o’clock news or go on Social Media or read a text from someone or get off the cell/telephone just now with the news from somebody saying something that is not even in your thought processes. Man, if you could only turn back the clock for just a hot minute. Say what you need to say before life takes on a new face, a new look, a different space and journey. It reminds me of that one line in Thomas Merton’s prayer Unknowing….”I do not see the road ahead of me.” We have no idea what is before us, only God knows. So how does one navigate this life one is given.
Recently a friend shared that his next door neighbour, who he has lived beside for thirteen years, has now found out she has 4th stage cancer, given about two month left here on earth. What do you do with that? She will be leaving behind her two sons who are right now in a state of disbelief. How does one take that? I mean really how does one get up each day knowing that in a few weeks or even sooner that the time has come to say goodbye.
My heart breaks a little bit more each time you hear those kind of stories. You just want to wrap them up and hold them, give them relief and hope, in the midst of whatever time they have left. I remember my cat Marble in her last few days of her life. Boy I choke up thinking back two years ago March. I did not realize how bad she was until she could not lift her little head off from the carpet. Not Marble. She was fierce, not friendly mind you (LOL) and only was kind when she was hungry. Or yes on those rare occasions she needed a quick cuddle or petting. Then no more. Little Miss was certainly a pain in my side….and a biter if she wanted to be. But boy she was a part of my life. I picked her up on that last day, covered her in a little blanket, laid her down beside me on the couch and held her tiny paw. The vet and I decided the day before that there were too many things that were breaking down quickly within her. We decided together it was best to put her down the following day and thus that morning, I was up really early. When I came downstairs she did not even lift her head up. It hurt. I remember my heart beating to a different drum that day to see her like that. She took her last breath with me. She did not die alone. Thank the Lord for small mercies.
I think about this time in our life with the pandemic but also reminding myself of the other losses and tragedies around the community, local/ nationally/ internationally. It is the sadness that comes with the loss and grieving of loved ones. The experiences of leaving behind and moving on, trying to make sense of something that does not. It does not even have to be a death as it could be the loss that comes from a divorce, separation, moving away and leaving ones precious home, friendship, breakups, debilitating illness or disease, loss of a job, loss of a pet…. the unknown. Unexpected or expected of an inevitable suffering or loss of something…life as you know it….well it begs a different way of looking at things. Doing things. And as Merton’s prayer quotes (s)he cannot know for certain where it will end.
We do not know what is in store for us. All we can do for ourselves is try to get up each day and take one step then another. My grandfather in his dry wit had once said to me that it is a good day when a man can feel his feet hitting the floor after waking up. Yeah. The day before you….well, it can take the very breath right out of you. So what do you do when you live in a shoe…. move to a boot and get laced. I do not think a person can ever be prepared truly for saying goodbye to someone or something that has played such a significant role or taken up such a space in one’s life. When gone, what then?
Loss and goodbyes are part of life. Not one that is accepted easily but exists nevertheless. So do you stay in the spot and feel the overwhelming sense of loss or is it possible to catch a glimpse of something, a light in the darkness. It might take a while to get there but oh to feel just a faint heart beating without the painful reminder of days long ago when things were….what? Happier, joyful, merry, holy, beautiful, celebratory, simpler. Maybe it is giving oneself permission to be okay even when you may think you should not. To be okay to feel a spurt or burst of the happy. Not be in survival mode but thriving, embracing, living. To be awaken. It is okay.
Life has a funny way of continuing to burst in to song even while turmoil and strife come knocking. It is a surreal feeling to be standing amidst the chaos within while all around you the ordinary day continues to unfold. Not a missed step. Have you ever heard someone say “life goes on” or “this too shall pass” or “time heals”. Yes to all of them. And the triteness in the words, are they easy to hear or accept….nope not today or tomorrow for that matter. I think screaming, a temper tantrum, a jumping up and down, a squeezing of dog….oops just kidding. No seriously you kind of have a bottled up sense of injustice bestowed upon the heart that cries….ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Are. You. Kidding. Me. But sadly and regretfully ‘no’, a big NO.
So the goodbye. Well, hold it gently and kindly, offer it even when it is not welcomed even if it is one of the hardest moments in one’s life. For goodbyes come in all different sizes, packages, and all impossibly sore to bear. Some even leave scratches. Here today, gone tomorrow. But not to say goodbye…well it might not be good for that old heart. Blessings today.
“Why didn’t I learn to treat everything like it was the last time? Jonathan Safran Foer
“No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.” C.S Lewis
“That moment you need someone, but they’re in heaven…and so you cry instead.”
“For the rest of my life I will search for moments full of you.” Saves The Day
What your reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived. And that is a great gift.” Elizabeth Edwards
“It is kind of shocking when your world falls to pieces and everything and everyone around you carries on with life. How can the birds continue to sing?How can people carry on loving life? Zoey Clark
“I will never forget the moment your heart stopped and mine kept beating.” Angela Miller
Let us pray for those whom are in need of our prayers and for losses in our life. May we find strength in the farewell.