Friday, September 26, 2014

To a Dear Friend, With Love

This post is dedicated to a dear friend.

We are a part of nature. We know that as a part of nature, we live and we will someday die. Knowing that doesn’t make it any less sad, however. It’s a way of trying to be logical with our minds, but when it comes to death, it’s our hearts that are torn apart, and no logic or reasoning can sooth the pain of a broken heart.

It’s particularly tragic when someone far too young passes away. We view our lives with a series of milestones, and it’s deeply sad to know the many years of joy someone will never know. We cannot beat ourselves up on what we could have done. We must mourn and grieve, cry and yell. But we also must remember and celebrate life, take care of those around us, celebrate the years someone had, even if they were far too short.

I know a good mother. When talking to her about visiting a troubled son, she once told me, “I’m going to hug him and kick his ass. But probably not in that order.” She loved him no matter his mistakes, like a good mother. She did everything in her power to discipline and help him, like a good mother. She was always there for him. I hope you know that. We always have a thought that we could have done more. But you did everything you could. Everything.

It is not right for the old to bury the young. It is not right for a parent to bury a child. It is not right and it is not fair, and I can think of nothing worse in life.

My dad passed away at too young of an age. Only in his early 60s, he should have had many golden years to live and laugh. I had to see him die slowly, moving from hospital to hospital, from nursing home to nursing home, with no brothers or sisters to help, as I was an only child. When he passed, my family knew it was also a blessing because he was in so much pain. But still I suffered and cried. I remember trying to go to bed that first night, but I began sobbing uncontrollably. It hit me like the flu, powerful and terrible and uncontrollable. I moved from the bed to the bathroom, where I sobbed by the toilet. I will never forget that night, as I have never experienced such painful sorrow.

But even with that: I knew it was coming. I knew he would pass, and I guess you could say I was blessed that I had months to prepare for it. I cannot imagine the shock of losing a loved one, especially a young and healthy loved one. No preparation. No chance to say a final good-bye. It’s the epitome of tragedy. What does one do?

I don’t know. I’m not an expert and I have not experienced that. Cry. Cry a lot. Never be ashamed of tears or emotions. Cuss. Cuss a lot. Never be ashamed of the power of words. Pray. Pray a lot. Search for a deeper meaning. When those stages pass (and really they never do—I will be doing fine for months, and a memory of my father hits me like a bee sting out of nowhere and those emotions come back all over again), I think we have to learn and celebrate. Cherish the stories and the photos. Do something in his memory. Find a purpose to fulfill the emptiness. Celebrate the years he lived and all the times he helped others and made someone smile.

Who isn’t terrified of death? Who doesn’t absolutely dread the day we must deal with the loss of a loved one? We will have those days, and if you are fortunate to have many loved ones, then you may experience many such days over a lifetime.

I’ve always thought that you can’t fight emotion with logic. We will think that we could have done more, we will be terribly sad, we will hate the world that caused this, and we will cry. Telling yourself it’s not your fault is logical, but it doesn’t help. The only way I know how to fight emotions is to be emotional. Let the tears flow. But find ways to smile and laugh. Find positive emotions to fight the negative, and live your life. Your life is every bit as special too, and we cannot forget to live while mourning the death of a loved one.

This all may be garbage, who knows. But when I want to reflect, I take to pen or paper (or a keyboard).

Dear friend. I am here for you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do. Please know that there are many people who love you, people who will help you stand tall when you feel weak.

All my love,

P.S. I know you’ve probably seen this before. I’m not shy in sharing it. I read it at my dad’s memorial, and it holds deep meaning for me. This is an excerpt from Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrie.

“I heard a nice little story the other day,” Morrie says. He closes his eyes for a moment and I wait.

“Okay. The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He’s enjoying the wind and the fresh air — until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore."

“‘My God, this is terrible,’ the wave says ‘Look what’s going to happen to me!’”

“Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, ‘Why do you look so sad?’"

“The first wave says, ‘You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?’"

“The second wave says, ‘No, you don’t understand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.’"

I smile. Morrie closes his eyes again.

“Part of the ocean,” he says. “Part of the ocean.” I watch him breathe, in and out, in and out.

1 comment:

  1. Awww, Joe! This is such a touching and most meaningful entry. I appreciate you sharing the emotions that we all share when losing a loved one in such a personal and thought provoking way. It is so true-- you witnessed great pain and suffering in watching your Dad's final months/years. I can only imagine how you were able to navigate that process, all the while maintaning your trademark smile/enthusiasm fo r life. The lasting gift from that experience is that you-- and only you-- can relate to those who have had a similar experience. You can help them sort through the emotions, the pain, and the grieving process. I love the Tuesdays With Morrie verse-- such a great one, and oh so true! Thanks for sharing! I love reading your blog!