Updated: Jul 23, 2021
I was having a conversation at the kitchen table with my surviving son Nick yesterday. He had flown in for the weekend for a family wedding, and we were chatting about his upcoming plans for the summer. He’s going to move from one side of the country to another and will be bringing his dog to my home for a few weeks as he navigates the transition. When he started mentioning the dates that he’d be arriving with Leo the labradoodle, I realized it would be right around the time of the anniversary of the death of my son Chad. My ears perked up a bit and I asked Nick “can you be here on the 23rd?”.
He said: "Why? What’s the 23rd?”
I was more than surprised for a moment. But whaddya know, the anniversary of Chad’s death is not front and center in Nick’s life.
It took a second, and then.. wait for it… I thought:
Well thank God. Thank God that the anniversary of his brother’s death is not at the front and center of Nick’s life.
This thought gave me pause, and made me wonder (a little later on) - should it be so front and center in my life? Should I be walking through these next few weeks with that date firmly set ahead of me? The anniversary…it’s coming closer…the anniversary…gloom and doom….the anniversary…what will I do that day? ... Stuck in future tripping, "should"-ing all over myself.
Later in the day, when Nick and I were guests at that wedding, and everyone around us was having a nice time - including us - yes of course I thought about Chad. And I mentioned his name a couple of times, when it was relevant, even though people don’t know what to say to that. I mention him anyway. It’s my little way of thinking I'm teaching them something - teaching them it’s okay to speak of the dead. They might have a friend someday who loses a child or grandchild and maybe they will learn something from me about how to interact with the bereaved. I don’t know why I carry a torch about that, but I do.
So this morning, I woke up feeling okay. I texted the mother of the groom. I texted the happy couple. I drank my coffee and spent some Sunday morning time in meditation and prayer. Because here’s the thing: life really does go on. Kids grow up and get married. Young couples get pregnant. Awkward young singles chat with divorced older singles at the thoughtfully-agonized-over-seating-arranged tables. People dance in a group - everyone trying to fit in and belong.
And people die too. Couples miscarry. Children get sick. Cars crash. Guns fire and bombs blow. Young adults accidentally overdose. Some die by suicide. Aunts and Uncles get cancer. Grandpas break their hips. And the weddings continue. Because life is simply too precious not to celebrate it. And as the happy couple begins their life together, may God bless them in their joys and their sorrows. Because life brings both, and there’s no other option but to dance with the one, before the other cuts in.
til death do they part.
And on the anniversary, I'll light a candle. And all will be well. It really will.
In what ways are you attempting to dance with the joy and the sorrow - as life brings both? Share any small steps you have taken or would like to take.
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