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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Live, Laugh, Love

It's been years since I have participated in a scavenger hunt, but just last night I did.  I have never laughed so hard in my life as we tried to accomplish the tasks required for the win.  It was the older women versus the younger ones, it was fun, competitive and unbelievable how many people were willing to help us with the requirements.  It was fun, enjoyable and I am still chuckling to myself thinking of what we did last night, nothing illegal I assure you, just some good wholesome fun. 

Fun and laughter, something I thought I might never experience again after my daughter's death.  For so many people, when we are grieving, even the thought of ever being able to just smile seems so far away.  Some feel that laughing and having a good time is a betrayal of their loved one, others feel that they no longer have the right to laugh, to have fun.  I have been told that when others where laughing and just enjoying themselves, that the grieving person felt angry, bitter and hurt.  How dare someone have a good time when I am in so much pain. 

I laugh, I smile, I have a good time, and depending on what I am doing, like last night, I think of my daughter and how much fun she would have participating in such antics.  It doesn't mean that a pang of pain doesn't pull at my heart, believe me it does, but that I am able to live, not yet fully accepting completely, but understanding that she is not coming back.  

If you have recently lost someone, you are probably thinking 'this woman is nuts' how can anyone ever be happy again?  I am not saying it is easy, trust me its not, I so wished my daughter was with us last night.  I don't say it out loud for fear of making anyone uncomfortable, but the idea is there just the same.  

Earlier in the day, I had been at a birthday party, and while we were sitting around talking and cooing over the babies that were there, a butterfly floated by; I immediately thought of my daughter.  Let me explain, every time I see a butterfly I think of Rachel, butterflies are for many the symbol of rebirth.  For years the butterfly was etched on tombstones as a symbol of resurrection and new life.  There is a beautiful proverb that states: 'just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.'  Shortly after Rachel died, a friend and I went for a walk, we just talked about anything and everything to do with how I was feeling and the death of my daughter.  As we walked along, we noticed a beautiful butterfly that kept fluttering ahead as we approached.  Every time we came closer it would fly on ahead and wait until we approached again.  This went on for the entire time we were walking, which was well over 3 miles.  

At first the sighting of a butterfly would bring tears to my eyes, as time went on they became and still are welcome sights.  When we have gatherings were family is involved and we spot a butterfly we immediately say Rachel is here.  Like the caterpillar, eventually we begin to change, to step out of our old shells, we emerge and reawaken to the new normal in our lives, we learn to laugh again.  We do not forget, but we recognize that we are all the better for having had this person in our lives.  

In the support group that I attended one of the tasks we did was to come up with 5 things that we loved about the person, as well as 5 things we didn't.  We also had to share what we learned from this person.  I learned a lot from my daughter even if her life here was so short, she taught me to love unconditionally, to accept everyone and to truly enjoy life.  To live, to laugh, to love and not be afraid to be myself.  If you take the time to just write down what the person meant to you, how they lived their lives, what you liked and didn't like, you will be astounded by what you reveal to yourself.  When you think about what you learned from this person, you will realize how much they truly accomplished during their time here on earth.  

We want to remember, we want to move forward, we want to laugh again and you will.  Like the butterfly, we are the caterpillar which represents our birth, we become the chrysalis which represents death (for those grieving, it represents a time a great darkness and pain) and then the beautiful butterfly representing resurrection or in our cases a new beginning.  Once the butterfly breaks free of its cocoon, it alights on flowers taking in all it has to offer, spreading its wings, enjoying the sun's rays, living each day to its fullest.  We, like the butterfly, learn to enjoy life's simple pleasures again, we smile, we laugh, we spread our wings, all the richer for having had that someone special in our lives.  To quote my daughter's favorite saying, 'Live, Laugh, Love.'

Courtesy of The Butterfly

 My hopes for you is that you will let yourself transform and enjoy life because of what that person taught you.  Spread your wings and live.

Live….laugh…and Love
By John McLeod

Live well dear friends
In all you do,
Tho' paths be old
Or paths be new,
But to yourself
Be ever true,
Live well!

Laugh often friends
Tho' passing years
Bring, sometimes, smiles
And, sometimes, tears,
For mirth forever
Warms and cheers
Laugh often!

Love much dear friends
For love will bring
The healing joy
And hope of Spring,
Where pain and fear may never dwell

And so Live well,
Laugh often too,
And more, dear friends,
Love much!

Blessings! and until we meet again.

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