Thursday, April 5, 2012
Guzzle, Slurp, Chug!!!
Drink the wild air.
That's what I want us all to do.
Last night I got the sad news that a very dear former neighbor is in critical condition and not expected to make it to Easter. She is in her 90s and lived a good life. But still...
My heart is heavy.
I am not good at letting go of people. My father died when I was a sophomore in college and he was a mere 49. Now that I am 53, it is hard to carry the knowledge that I outlived him -- to imagine not having these past 4 years, not seeing my last child graduate from high school, not being at my children's weddings, not welcoming precious new members into our family, not celebrating milestones with my husband. I have been so blessed to have had this time with Vic and our kids, and I pray that we all delight in many more years of joy and laughter together. But still...you just never know.
I have had several of these good-byes in my life. My father first, a life-changing blow to a daddy's girl. (The hardest farewell to him was on my wedding day 2 years later, when I slow-stepped down that endless center aisle in the church by myself; it was his place to give me away and I didn't want anyone else to make that walk with me.) Then, later, I had 6 miscarriages, each loss a shiv to my heart. My grandfather passed away on a Valentine's Day shortly after I had our first daughter. My grandmother, who regaled me with stories of Jesus, lived an entire century. (Can you imagine her life and what she saw??) My father-in-law, who was Dad to me during all my long fatherless years, passed away 6 years ago. And most recently, my sister-in-law, the sister I never had, died unexpectedly and awfully, also only 49.
With each one, I had to figuratively pry my fingers open to let them go. I do not want to say good-bye to the ones I love. (Who does?) I do not want to go through what's left of my existence longing to see their faces, yearning to hear their voices, wishing to say "I love you" one more time. I want to hang on, keep a piece of them with me, feel them close by my side.
And I have learned, with each death, something new all over again. They do not leave. They are tucked safely inside, living yet in the mansion of my heart, an infinite and enduring presence that can never die. Death, the great divider, cannot separate us after all. They are with me in all the choices I make, the words I speak, the life I live and the love I give.
This is why I urge you constantly to live life with arms wide open: I have learned how fragile, how tenuous the bond to life can be. In the tiniest, most diminutive fraction of a second, your life can explode with cataclysmic change. You will never be the same person you were. Life can still be absolutely amazing, filled with the hopeful possibility of happiness to come, but it will be altered. You will learn to live in a new world. There are no guarantees, no assurances that life now will be there later. We are fireflies, winking out in a great darkness, and waking to shine brightly on the other side.
So drink deeply of that wild air and get deliriously drunk on it. Guzzle, slurp, chug it all down. Love with every fiber of your being. Tell people you adore them every chance you get -- no, go out and MAKE those chances happen; do not wait. Shout it from the rooftops. Spread cheer. Laugh from your belly. Give bear hugs. Dance. Be kind. Embrace everything. Don't just follow your bliss -- live it with all the fiery passion that is in your soul. Seize every opportunity to fill your life and the ones of those around you with remarkable experiences and joyful memories. Remember your incredible, bountiful blessings every day. Forget about old hurts, past grudges, the anger of bygone moments -- there simply isn't TIME for that anymore. Each second is counting down in our hourglass of life, and when that last grain of sand flows at lightning speed through the neck of the bottle, there's no turning it over and starting again.
LIVE YOUR LIFE. Start right now. Already precious seconds have flitted by.