I love you was the last thing she would ever say to me. As I looked into her beautiful eyes, my heart knew this would be the last time, this was really goodbye.
I had no idea when I decided to volunteer for Hospice how attached I could become to another human being in such a short time. I was telling my dad how deeply affected I was by the recent death of a patient I had grown to love. His response took me by surprise. “It’s not good to get attached.” I knew he was wrong. I had come to understand that being completely open to embracing someone with my whole heart was one of the most beautiful gifts I would ever know. Tonight I am in pain. As the rain falls against my window, my tears fall onto my pillow. I am comforted by the fact that my sweet little lady finally got her wish to go back home. I will miss her sweet face and the warmth of her hand and I am a better person because our lives touched, if only for a moment. Timing is everything and I believe everyone we meet serves a purpose. Our short time will leave a mark on my heart. I hope she knew just how special she was to me.
Kiddy Rock died today. Several years ago, my brother brought a cat home from college. Kids were abusing her and he felt the need to go on a rescue mission. That cat never left my mothers house again. The truth is, I never really liked the cat. She would stand underneath every step you tried to take until you gave her what she finally wanted. She never stopped meowing and I have to admit she was really annoying. Today though, I surprisingly shed a few tears for her. Like most of us, she just wanted to be seen and heard. Don’t we all want attention? The difference is that cat didn’t have too much pride to demand the attention she craved. Most of us feel the same loneliness and yearning for love that she did. Why are we so selfish with what we can give? Why is it so hard to love people the way they want to be loved and give them our time and attention? Why does it take losing a person or a pet to realize how crappy we were to them in the time they were in our lives? My son loves that cat. We were just home a few weeks ago and I heard my mother ask who put a towel out by the front door? I knew it was him so she had something soft and warm to lay on. His heart is enormous and his heart will be broken. We should all love someone or something that much. We should all be so kind. Do it. Start today. Be kind. Pay attention to those people in your life who are craving your attention. Love them today while you still can because tomorrow is never promised.
I’m not really sure if I chose the right time to taper my depression medication. I am hoping by the time the holidays are over, I will be off of them for good. As I sit here quietly thinking about the family members who have passed away, I can’t help but shed a few tears. People come and go into our lives and they change us. Some for the better and others for worse but the ones we hold dearly never completely slip away. Their lessons, their memory, their kind words and their smile live in very special part of our hearts. It seems like yesterday that I was a teenager sitting in a room full of relatives, surrounded by an amazing circle of love. It saddens me to know many of those special people haven’t been a part of my life in several years. Every Thanksgiving I allow myself to remember. I sit in the pain, in my loneliness and I quietly grieve for their loss. I also remind myself that life is so much shorten than we ever imagine and it is so important to make memories with the people I am still blessed to have a part of my life. My heart is so full knowing in three short days I will return to place I grew up. The house that built me will be standing strong with a faint memory of my grandmother standing in the window waiting for me to pull in the drive. I still feel her presence today. Take time to look around your table over this long weekend. Be grateful for every person, every day, every memory and for all the wonderful times that are still to come. Count your blessings. Count them a hundred times and allow that special love to fill your heart and tuck it away where you can pull it back out whenever you need it most.
One thing I’ve learned about writing is that the writer only shares what he wants to share. If the writer is putting the story of his life into words but leaving important parts out, how will the the reader ever really understand and know the writer? I am going to share a very personal story that may or may not give you a new perspective on who I am or how I think. The benefit is mostly for myself because when we store pain in our hearts for too long, the heart starts to ache. So, this is one of those painful events that have been holding my heart prisoner for so long. It is time to set the pain free.
I grew up surrounded by family as a child. I had big families on both sides and you could say I was pretty blessed. One side became unexpectedly smaller much sooner than it should have. The pain has stayed with me to this day. I had two male cousins my age. I wasn’t particularly close to one but the other one and myself shared many memories together. He would come stay at our house and camp out in my backyard. We would have get togethers and vacations together. We grew apart for years but then I was given a wonderful opportunity to get to know him and grow close to him once again. My friends became his friends and he moved in with us for a short time while I was in college. We would go out drinking or just hang out at the house. He became someone that I shared parts of myself with that others would never know.
I remember the day I got the call. My heart absolutely sank when my uncle told me my cousin had killed his girlfriend and taken his own life. I remember saying who? It just didn’t make sense. It didn’t add up. I had known this boy for so many years and it couldn’t be possible. Not only did our family have to deal with the knowledge that he had taken someone’s life, he had taken his own as well. There are some things we cannot run from. There are some things we cannot make go away. Did I now see him as some horrible monster? Did I think he deserved to die as well? It didn’t matter. He was gone. And so was this innocent girl. We had two innocent families dealing with unquestionable, unfathomable pain. These were some of the saddest and darkest days of my life.
This day forever changed me. I realized that we are so quick to point a finger and judge, but sometimes a situation slaps us so hard in the face that we learn to never judge another circumstance again. Some people don’t ask to have bad things happen to them. The truth though, is that we are connected to people who do bad things and make bad choices. They don’t automatically become the bad decision they make. The years, the memories, the good we knew in that person does not disintegrate into nothingness because of a bad choice.
If there is a lesson here, it is that you just never know. I choose compassion over an eye for an eye for personal reasons. Remember that other cousin I mentioned earlier in the post? He took his own life too. I have lived with the guilt of being the sole survivor that age on that side of the family. I have carried the burden and responsibility of making my life good and living it fully in honor of all three of us. Don’t be too quick to judge and don’t always choose to be too harsh. There is a lesson in every circumstance. Mine is that life doesn’t always go the way we expect for the amount of time we expect it too. Drink it in, love with all your heart and don’t waste time on the people and things that just don’t matter.