At the beginning of September, in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, I got the news that a dear, long time friend of my family’s had passed. It was not unexpected, she had been ill, yes, with cancer, for years, and I knew she was in hospice. We live on opposite ends of the country, and I had been in touch not so long ago, but hadn’t seen her in years. I should have been ready for this, but still it hit me, harder than I expected. For a few nights I woke up crying in the wee hours of the morning again in a way I haven’t since losing my own mother.
This evening, as I was pulling into my driveway, I got a text. More, similar news. Cancer taking yet another. More loss, more time nearing an end, more when enough should be enough already, and instead of walking in thinking of dinner, I walked in thinking of this family who will mourn this loved one, and learn to live with the ache.
I have been knocked sideways and off my feet by loss these last 5 or so years, and when the loss of another person happens in my life, I have this almost knee jerk thought of no, not again, this isn’t supposed to happen again.
But I have been chewing on this thought a lot lately, digesting or maybe composting it, trying to turn it into something else. So if I seem to be focusing on death a lot these days, it’s really way my of making sense of it in my own life.
Because it is. It is supposed to happen in our lives, again, and again, and again. It is woven into the very fabric of life that it should also encompass death. That we should think otherwise seems almost ridiculous to me when I stand back from my own deep emotions, and put it in context.
I was thinking a few days ago that my children have known so much more loss in their young years than I did at their ages. Maybe this makes them more resilient, maybe they will have better coping skills, at the very least, they should have a better understanding and acceptance that loss will come to all of us.
No one taught me how to do this, how to accept that life is fragile and uncertain. But I am learning. I am not at all good at this. Truth be told, I have prayed, more than once, since the loss of my mother and since subsequent losses, for a week or weeks off alone. Time to curl into fetal position, and not move from there unless absolutely necessary, and cry until I somehow finally stop. But that hasn’t been my path, and somehow I am still here, and I am surviving losing loved ones, treasured dreams, youth as it fades from me, time as it slips stealthily away.
And as I keep showing up here, in this uncertain place, I am coming to believe that we are meant for this. We are meant for this rich beautiful and sometimes awfully tragic life. We are meant to lose, to mourn, to learn to accept, and then still show up and embrace life with all of it’s uncertainty, all of it’s mystery. To love, to lose, to be crushed by that loss, however it came about, to bleed and heal and love some more, knowing with each subsequent losing that we are choosing to be vulnerable and cracked open again, and that somehow we are even better for this, or at least we can be.
I don’t know how we choose this and still keep our sanity, but we do, I do. I am sitting here, swallowing the lump that has been stuck in my throat since I got that text, and I am choosing. I’m here, I want this, I’m glad I’m here, it hurts like hell these days, but I want to be here.
It is a beautiful, warm breezy night for October and it’s time for me to sit outside for a bit, and maybe hear some of the secrets to the mysteries of life whispered on on the wind.