Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ma (or someone's Pa)

My mom would have been 73 years old today. She had lung cancer and died at 69 instead. The easy thing is to say she shouldn't have smoked, but that doesn't explain how George Burns lived until 100+ smoking cigars or why my grandfather lived into his 90s after being exposed to asbestos particles for years and years.

The fact of the matter is that we lost her before we wanted to and the particulars along with their moral/rational sense of superiority was irrelevant; to say the least. That fact was driven home this last week as my good friend's father passed away from the same ailment. Just as my mother volunteered to help many who needed it, this father built a business that provided for his wife and sons and many others. If he or my mom had been struck down in any of a hundred other ways, the pain and remembrance would not change.

My dad called me today to recall the memory of my Mom. There are few of us who become Desmond Tutus or Lance Armstrongs or others who are quoted for years to come, but for most of us, a more modest legacy remains. My mom or my friend's dad may not be published in every major newspaper, but they sure touched many lives and left a good mark in this world. They are worth remembering and worth grieving even years later.

In time, sadness gives way to a life that goes on with the capacity for happiness, but every passing life leaves a mark that changes us forever. For me, it is a pang that subsides, but for my friend, the wound is fresh and it cannot be salved in a day or a week. It seems of no consolation when pain is ripe and bare and present to know that things will get better...but in the back of the mind, this knowledge is the microscopic seed of later healing.

I've lost several loved ones over the last decade, but those words I have been most comforted by were the ones who acknowledged my pain by admitting their own and oddly, flowers. Before I really got hit with pain, I always thought flowers would be a nuisance. When the day came when I thought there was little life left in this dark, grey world, all the flowers that people sent us were proof against the darkness. Every pot and vase was a message from somebody saying, "We love you. We sense your pain. We wish you well." While it couldn't stem the feeling of loss, these tokens built a bridge back to the idea that things could get better.

And indeed they have. Goodbye Mom. Goodbye, Mr. Grant. We will heal from our pain, but we will remember your lives.

6 comments:

ladybug said...

I think that's really true, I know I've appreciated all the flowers we got. I still make your mom's Lutefisk every year!

But I've added a few dishes of my own...

To Mr. Grant & his family, I'm so sorry he had to leave so soon...

Selba said...

I remember when I lost my dad, I received a few condolence cards and 1 small bouquet of flower. I was in Kansas during that time.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Snabbie, my parents still have the roses your family sent us when my sister died. They took them with them when they moved down to Waldport. They've been with us for over twenty years now.

Yes, flowers can be a special thing in hard times, especially if you can plant them and enjoy them for years afterward.

Pandabonium said...

There are many inputs that affect one's lifespan, we only know that some things like smoking have a negative effect.

Likewise, there are many ways to offer support to people who have lost a loved one. Being there is best if you're close. Flowers are always good. But what ever form it takes, it should be an expression of compassion and understanding that acknowledges the loss rather than an effort to "cheer up" the bereaved.

Death is a part of life. We affirm life whenever we remember and celebrate those who we have lost.

Maximilian Strange said...

One the one hand, its sad when people die, but on the other hand, they begin a new spiritual adventure.

Anonymous said...

You are a wonderful big brother and an insightful, compassionate, and wise man and I love you with all of my heart.

Love,

Snabbirdy :>