It’s not the things you know
There are several events which are inescapable in anyone’s life barring some unfortunate or unforeseen circumstances. Some are positive events to be celebrated, like graduating college or high school, getting married, the birth of a child, etc. Some are negative and cause great grief such as the loss of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a career, etc. However, out of any of the events that fit either description, the things that stand out in my memory are not the notions or ideas that I had entering into the event but rather the things I now know because I’ve experienced it. We all think we know how our lives will go; we all think we know about things that have yet to happen to us. Truth is, none of us know until it happens.
Planning for a negative event is futile
Recently, my father passed away after a short but intense battle with cancer. While his health had been largely declining over the last few years of his life for myriad reasons, his diagnosis came both as a surprise and a shock. The speed at which it progressed and ultimately claimed his life seems astounding now that it’s over. When the diagnoses came, we went through all the normal anguish and “what ifs” that happen to anyone else. For me, many of these were exaggerated because I live a good distance from my parents and have for many years. I was not capable of being there or really helping in any way other than offer to moral support due to my own commitments and distance. My plan had been that i would drop everything and move home at the moment I was needed. However, that requires the proper chain of events to happen in the appointed order and it just wasn’t that way. The best I could do was to take some extended visitation time and be there for my parents for the time I could. But, in no way did my series of actions resemble my plans.
Say “I love you”………A LOT!
Seems like such a simple thing, doesn’t it? We have never been reserved as a family about saying “I love you” to one another but even so there comes a day when you will feel like you didn’t say it enough. There are few words in the English language that can continue to have the same power every time they’re said no matter how much they’re said but these are three. I am proud that these were the last words I was able to say to my father. I meant them every time I said them, I mean them even more now in his absence.
What are you waiting for?
The sum of the experience for me on a personal level is that we are born with a certain amount of time to accomplish all that we plan and conceive. The kicker is that we don’t have any way of knowing how long that time is. For my father, his time ran out in his mid-70’s. I hope to have at least as long but the truth is that I don’t know at all how much time I have left and neither does anyone else. Bearing that in mind, it seems as if waiting on some arbitrary condition or timing for an opportunity to fulfill a dream or accomplish a goal is a fruitless pursuit. I am not guaranteed any more time than the last second I counted and I have plenty of things I still want to experience and do. If I’m waiting on someone or something else, I may only be ensuring that I’ll never do anything about them.
I imagine I will be coping with and grieving Dad’s passing for some time to come and I known that I have to deal with this in my own way as do my Mom and brothers. However, I also believe that I have to learn from what’s happened as it is my last way to honor my Father.