I have heard in many stories from friends and loved ones, about the reassuring messages sent from those who have died to those of us left here with feelings of loss and grief that must be journeyed through. They seem to be reminding us, encouraging us, and still teaching us…to look, listen and feel.
Hearts and Moons seemed to speak of Molly. She had drawn happy faces on notes over the years and love was abundant in her life. After her death, those of us who were awake that same night gazed at the most stupendous full moon, like a happy face, that appeared to welcome her soaring spirit. There have been many messages from her. Molly’s motto had been to Memento Vivere, “remember to live”. Her family and friends wore the bracelet with those well-chosen words as a reminder.
Life seems to get muddled, though, as we fill our days with the mundane and work becomes too long and too hard. I made a kind of resolution one week to remember the significant, and not forget to find moments in my day for lessons from Molly, and others who reminded me- how short life is. On a certain afternoon, I took a rare actual lunch break, walking in a waterside park not far from my office. As I was hurriedly coming up the path, I nearly ran into a tremendous rock next to a chair that provided weary travelers a seat to gaze out over the water. I suddenly realized, this was not just a great big rock. A closer look revealed a ton-size huge heart. A sweet reminder from my loving cousin, remember to live, to love, to cherish these moments…and I took a seat.
Jim had suffered both a severe stroke and a complex, progressive dementia. I worked at a nursing facility at the time and had witnessed his wife’s loving care of him after his stroke and the companionship they had together remained palpable.
She shared this story in our grief group, following his death. As he was losing his cognitive function in addition to all his physical abilities, he told his wife he didn’t want to work so hard anymore, he didn’t want to keep going and die by inches, and he was going to stop eating. After a difficult conversation, his wife announced she was going home to call hospice, and he said “Be Brave”.
She knew they would both need to be brave. He died peacefully about 3 months later.
A few weeks later, his wife was travelling to spend some time with a lifelong friend. She sat in the airport awaiting her flight to the Midwest, alone and sad. For years, their trips had been a highlight in their relationship – so many memories of being together- and then the years of care giving that had prevented any travel. Relief had been a natural emotion following Jim’s death; freedom for him from the long weary road of disability and for her the daily care giving routine. But suddenly she was alone in life. As she felt the waves of pity wash over her, she looked up and saw a young woman walking towards her. Closer, closer, closer. On her bright green shirt, were big letters in white that said “Be Brave”.
Feel…..awash with rainbows
A day following her husband’s death, Sandy was walking out of a downtown business area in a hurry; there was much to get arranged for the funeral.
She was recalling her last request yesterday, as her husband lay dying in their bed at home. Would he just let her know that he was okay? Ed died that same day, unable to say any more or assure her.
There were so many tasks to complete; she was “on a roll”. As she finished her business and walked outside, she looked at the rain falling through the sunshine. It caught her attention, but she hurried on towards her car, intent on the next item to check off her list. A rather large woman was standing on the side walk, blocking her way. “You better stop and turn around” she said out loud. This seemed both over-bold and irritating; she thought whatever the woman’s problem was, she would ignore it. The woman stared. Suddenly Sandy stopped, remembering. Her husband often told her to slow down, enjoy the moment, and not get so caught up. Ed was telling her to turn around and she did so.
The shards of light piercing the crystal drops of water framed a brilliant double rainbow. She felt him with her, and she knew. He was more than okay; certainly he was telling her so, exactly 24 hours after she had asked for the reassurance.
As the saying goes, stop, and smell the roses. Find-even in the sadness-some sweetness. Look, listen, feel…