Friday, July 22, 2011

On loss

A few days ago a friend lost her fight with cancer. She was young and vibrant and strong, and the fact that she is no longer alive is a tragedy. She did not deserve to die. Of course it is a rare occasion when you think someone deserved to die, but somehow when the person is young, when the person has fought so hard, it seems so less fair.

Death is such a hard thing to deal with. They say there are stages to death, seven of them in fact, and whether you are facing your own impending mortality, or that of a loved one, the steps are supposed to be the same. I suppose since it is a process everyone must deal with that it makes sense that we would categorize the emotions people go through to somehow try and make things easier.

It doesn't though. There is no easy to death. Even if we understand that we are losing someone, and that maybe they won't suffer any longer, or will be in a better place, or it was their time, or whatever you say to comfort yourself; there is still a void.

When I was about 7 my grandfather was killed in a car accident. He was my world. When my mother told me he had died, I just didn't understand. I didn't understand why he would never come home. All the explanations of God and heaven meant very little to me. I was barely at the age of reason, and the abstract of heaven was not really all that comforting or logical. I suppose that was probably my first real sign that maybe Christianity wasn't my thing.

I still never really got around to the concept that he was gone though. There was this sad void in my life where he used to be. He wasn't there to make me oatmeal in the morning, or walk me to the bus, or hold my hand while I fell asleep; he was clearly missing in that way. Yet he wasn't really gone.

Through my entire life I found that I always felt he was there with me. I picked a star I could see out of my bedroom window as a child (and another one when we moved to a new house) and I would talk to it as though it were him. Sometimes I would lay on my back in the grass and talk to the clouds as though he could hear. I just never let him go.

He was dead but not gone.

I suppose that is how I have seen death ever since.
People die, and they are gone physically, but as long as we keep them alive in our memories and in our hearts they never really leave us. So all you can do is make a strong enough mark on enough lives and you will never truly be gone.

My grandfather is still very much with me and by the outpouring of love for my friend who just passed, she will be with us for a long time still.

As the Beatles sang "In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make."

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