At the Core of it, death is a funny thing….not literally obviously, but it is one of those controversial topics with respect to what happens leading up to, during and after the passing of an individual. Religion aside, it is hard to argue that the subject of death can leave one feeling mortal, without control and often mystified; yet, we know that each one of us will face it ourselves, along with the other many times that we will encounter it throughout our lives as loved ones pass.
Death is not a new topic for me. My earliest memory of it was at the tender age of nine when my Baba passed away peacefully (thankfully!) in her sleep at aged 84, after some time spent in a Senior’s home. All I knew then was that even though I could see her body in the casket at her funeral, she wasn’t really there and I had been told that she wasn’t coming back. It made no sense, it usually doesn’t. I also remember how devastated my mom was, as were the rest of us, and to be honest, some thirty-four years later, I don’t think she has ever fully recovered. I am not sure you can and actually, I am not even sure that we are meant to ‘recover’, whatever that is. Our lives are indeed forever changed when faced with such a close loss of life, if for no other reason than the clear physical separation. Beyond that, however, we are human beings and by nature, we define ourselves based on those around us–when someone is no longer in the here and now, it leaves a space, usually in our hearts. Sure, markers of time may come and go, and we are told that time can heal, but the rawness of those kind of emotions never truly go away. It doesn’t always have to be bad in that we can use grief and sorrow as an opportunity to grow and change in positive ways (i.e. learning to value the small moments in life, getting out of unhealthy relationships, motivation to pursue our dreams, spending more time with our loved ones, prioritizing one’s role), but at the heart of it, a piece of us will always be missing that nothing or no one can EVER replace. Some of us learn this the hard way and get caught up in trying to fill the hole(s) with all sorts of things, many unhealthy. Here’s the truth: We are individuals and while we may be expendable, we are NOT replaceable. Our souls are connected and we are one because of that (remember that I am choosing to keep religion out of this), but the oneness changes.
Since my Baba’s death, my extended family and circle of friends has slowly become smaller and smaller, as I reach middle-age. Many a death have happened, both young and old, expected and unexpected, self-inflicted, accidental or otherwise and all have been tragic in their own way. I have attended more funerals than weddings or celebrations by a long shot, and each time, it is all the more sobering than the last. Daily life goes on for the rest of us who are left behind, but in that instance of loss, the world becomes a different place than how we knew it the day before. We evolve the best we can, but sometimes it just isn’t good enough and that is because it is not enough. It never will be. Good enough would be to have our loved ones back with us again in this world, but….
As I read through many of today’s posts, I saw tributes to many moms who have passed on. So many people wishing to see or talk to their mom one more time, remembering often the good times, but sometimes the challenging ones too. It is sad and thought-provoking and very real. At brunch with my own mom today (for whom I am most grateful is here to spend Mother’s Day with), I learned about a close family friend of ours who died this past Thursday. She just celebrated her 50th birthday in February, first learning of her cancer diagnosis six months ago. Time froze when my mom told me. Goosebumps rose and my racing thoughts began…
‘But how? Why? *Sherry? Can’t be!!! What? Why? She’s only a few years older than me. My brother will be 50 in a month. What if it had been him? (Selfishly), thank God, we are all here. Oh my God, her family. How is her mom doing? Why didn’t anyone tell us? What can we do to help? When is the service? How did she spend her last few months? Was anyone there at the end? Will she be reunited with her dad again? What kind of cancer? I hate cancer.
Sherry. 50. Gone. My next door neighbour in early childhood. Her family, my family, friends, ALWAYS. Camping, laughing, fishing, travelling, birthday parties. Forever changed. Funeral this coming Saturday. This is real. Death is real.
I will do my best to celebrate Sherry’s life. I am sure that that is what she would want. I also take comfort in somehow knowing that she is with her dad. ‘Maybe that is why this was her time?’ still thinking…. After twenty years apart, it must have been time to be with him again. Now, they will be together forever. I think that’s it. I can only hope that’s it.
*Name has been changed out of respect for the family.