A mother, a father and a wife. These folks (unrelated) recently passed on and I need to get sympathy cards for their families, who are my friends. At one time I was comfortable writing a little note in the card to extend my condolences. But after going through so many losses and seeing how each situation and the experiences were so different, I find myself at a loss for words. I realize how much I really don’t know or understand about life and death.
The mother and father were in their 80s. They led full lives and didn’t have any regrets. They leave behind wonderful children and grandchildren, and the marks they left on their hearts.
This wife was also a mom of two beautiful young daughters. They had several years with their mom and were fortunate enough to create memories that included a few trips to Disneyland, sports and other family activities. I smile knowing the girls have each other and a dad who loves them to pieces. But I’m betting they’ll be very sensitive to the emptiness in the house and in their dad’s heart. When you lose a spouse or companion, you lose your day to day routine and the life you knew. I’m betting the same is true when you’re that young and lose your parent.
At age 40, and even with my mom being gone for four years, there are still many times when I’ve caught myself as I was thinking about picking up the phone to call her. Want to complain about something that happened at work. Call mom. Mad at my other half. Call mom. Need to know how to cook something. Call mom. I still have her phone numbers in my Contacts list because I couldn’t bring myself to delete them.
Memories are great, especially when you can look back and find the beauty and value in the time spent, but they’re also dangerous when left to repeatedly play in your mind. That’s when memories become the reminder of the void and the pain that comes with loss.
Moving on with life and looking towards the future doesn’t mean that you’ve forgotten about your past or those you loved dearly. In fact, I tend to believe that living for the future means you’ve learned from your past and are honoring those whom you loved and loved you dearly.