There is so much that happens in our lives at times that we find ourselves spinning. We often wonder where do I begin, we do I go from here, what does it all mean, and why, why now, why me? Yet, all spinning is not bad, as I watched my daughter and son-in-law in the excited frenzy of buying there first home, even in the frustration, there was a happiness, and a sense of accomplishment. In the chaos of the packing, painting, cleaning, unpacking and then the settling in, you could sense the pride, the hopefulness, and the awakening of new dreams. Nothing, it seems, could dampen their spirits, there wasn't anything that they were afraid to tackle, they had arrived.
The death of a loved one leaves us sometimes spinning totally out of control. Forget all the questions, you sometimes don't know what day it is, let alone your own name. There is no excited frenzy, oh there is frenzy, as you prepare for events you wish were someone else's to deal with. I speak for myself when I say I experienced frustration, definitely a deep sadness and a sense of total loss. What had I accomplished? What did I have to show for all my pain? The chaos that follows is nothing if not ugly, there is so much to deal with, calls and arrangements to make, going through the robotic motions: cry, laugh, hug this one, kiss that one, nod politely, even the words seem to take on a life of there own. In my case, I even found myself offering comfort to others, trying to ease their pain, forgoing my own to help others. Then I was alone.
Now I look back at that time in my life, and I amazed that I survived, that I even had the strength to move, let alone get up. But I did, as so many of you have, because you knew it was the right thing to do, you knew that it was expected of you, you knew that this was your chance to make your loved one proud. Whatever you’re reasoning, you did, you overcame yet another obstacle in your life, you SURVIVED.
There are so many times in my life that I wonder how I got through them, however when I reflect on these events, I realize how much I have grown, how much I have learned. Do I wish I could go back and alter them some how, yes!, but would I be who I am now? What shape am I taking, and are these events a necessary evil to continually make me into who I need to become? Or are they simply trials that each of us faces on our journeys, giving us a chance to pause and reflect on what we have, what we are and what we are capable of accomplishing as we continue on.
Rachel's life was brief, too brief for my liking, but in her 24 years here on this earth, she gave of herself, she accomplished so much, not always in ways that I would have liked, but in her very own distinct way. She learned some very hard life lessons early on, but it never dampened her spirit, it never wiped the smile from her face. She always looked for the silver lining, even if she started at the wrong side of the cloud. I remember her excitement of starting anew right before her death, she had enrolled in classes and would start school in a few weeks, she was finally going to get on with her life, she had plans, and nothing was going to stop her. I can still hear her bubbling over on the phone with me as she asked me to get her transcripts, and so on, and how the words 'I love you,' never sounded so sweet.
This conversation took place in the afternoon of Friday, September 8th... Shortly after I hung up the phone, she called her dad, told him her plans, and said 'I love you,' and hung up. She made many phone calls that day, to so many of her relatives and friends, each time expressing her love. We all recall a sense of pride in her voice, a feeling that she was going to be okay, that everything was falling into place for her. She was on 'Cloud 9' as they say, an euphoria that was contagious, we were all so very happy for her.
As I mentioned earlier, life can sweep in suddenly and take you completely off guard. When that fateful call came in the wee hours of the morning of September 9th, I knew in my heart that everything was not okay with the world. It's amazing how we respond, I woke my husband, told him what I had just been told on the phone, and that we needed to head over to the hospital. He looked at me and simply said, 'you go,' and I quietly responded by uttering 'please don't make me do this alone.' It seems as if both of us knew in our hearts that this wasn't just a quick jaunt to the emergency room with a sick child. Neither wanted to deal with it, and we responded in turn to how we were feeling. To qualify, my husband is very uncomfortable in hospital settings, and any opportunity to avoid them is quickly taken. But after my simple statement, he quickly dressed and off we went not knowing what we would encounter.
All else took a back seat on that fateful day not only for our immediate family, but for Rachel's friends as well. So many people gathered with us as we awaited news of her condition, of her progress or lack there of, and so on. It seems she was making the impossible, possible, she had managed to make our world stop for a few hours, giving us time to be together, to sit quietly with each other, to simply 'BE' in the moment.
She gave us one final gift with her death, she gave us life, she showed us how to appreciate it, and to not take a single moment for granted. Death has a beauty of it's own, and if we are willing to see beyond the surface, beyond the pain, we recognized what is there. For some of you, the death of a loved one brought comfort, solace and an end to their suffering, for others it was not welcomed or wanted, but left you with a sense of accomplishment, filled with wonderfully beautiful memories. Yes there is ugliness in death as well, just as there is in anything in life. Some deaths leave so many questions, that it takes years before you even begin to understand. For me, death is not an end, but a beginning, as chance to be free of all the pain and sadness of this world. Yes it leaves an emptiness, a void so deep, it seems impossible to cross, but there is for me anticipation that there is something so wonderful to look forward to, especially in knowing that I will some day be reunited with all my loved ones.
In the meanwhile, I know love transcends all time and space; it remains with us long after our loved ones have gone. Love fills us with hope, with promise and gives wings to our dreams. Love is the gift that when shared it multiplies and multiplies, filling our reservoir and keeping it filled for a lifetime. My favorite quote is 'Lover never fails,' (1 Corinthians 13:8) it lives on and on.
Blessings! and until we meet again.