In the last month, I’ve lost my step grandfather and my pseudo mother in law. It’s been both a heart wrenching and brilliantly beautiful couple of weeks – filled with unexpected trips (to Seattle and South GA) and family reunions. Brimming with celebrations of long lives, surrounded by unseasonably beautiful weather, and riddled with cloaked lessons.
“With every goodbye we go to seed again, this is how we come to make family from strangers, this is how we learn ‘always’, we are candles lit from each other.”
I’ve butchered a poem that held me enraptured in my teenage years, one that resonated with me and made my bones vibrate with an understanding of grief I didn’t realize anyone else was capable of. Here it’s like cheap beef stew meat in a styrofoam boat – still delicious but not nearly as much as if you’d been given the entire mess of meat to do admire.
Just the same, the words are still there. Sixteen years since I lost my mother, fourteen since I lost my father. Now I stand on the sidelines of life’s gymnasium – watching people I love find their rhythm in the dance of the mourning. I’m just the awkward girl with the glasses, the lazy eye and the ill-fitting dress, they’re the football quarterbacks trying to figure out what to do with their hands and attempting to look relaxed.
We all suck at this. We’re supposed to. It’s not supposed to be easy or come naturally, it’s supposed to ravage us and spin us around, and when we get our equilibrium back in check, when we can focus on the horizon again without tipping over, we’ll see a present there with pretty little bow.
If there’s one gift those I’ve/we’ve recently lost have graciously and silently granted, it’s their example of this: live. Work hard, and live the life you want to live.
Bill spent the last 20 years on a lake almost every day, fishing. He shared his passion and his love with his grandchildren, his friends, and his wife of 60 years. Karleen spent the last 16 years cooking, baking, visiting with friends and family, and driving her sister half mad (*giggle*). She died in the same house she was born in – the house her father built, on the farm he owned and worked, and it was exactly how she wanted it to be.
While I’m still trying to figure out how to balance the greedy “want” from the soul filling, world rewarding “want” and what that means for my actions, activities, hobbies, etc., I’ve found yet another quote to pin to my mental lapel (in hopes others will see it even without seeing it):
“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” – Ernst Fischer