I remember having lunch with T a couple weeks after his daughter had died. She was only 17. He made the comment that he was “okay, just wanting things to get back to normal.” He said that with a tired look in his eye. We both knew that was no longer possible.
“There’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
Death is one of those experiences in life that leaves you stunned. You know what I am talking about, right? There is movement and sound all around you, but you are just waiting for something to happen. Some scrap of life before the news. But everything is different.
At some point we all find ourselves in some corner looking through our thoughts and looking over our life’s shoulder. Do we stop trying or do we run like a madman?
And then time goes on. A week goes by. A month goes by. A year goes by.
So what do we do with such a tragedy? Just passively allow our busy schedules to put space between the pain and our conscious thought? No.
Who of us, at a funeral, haven’t wished for one more chance to say what we have been meaning to say? Or just perhaps we wished for an opportunity to go back and change something? As soon as death shows its face, we look at our past. We wish our time away. Like a little child who gathers up all his toys when a bully comes around, we collect and cling to whatever bit of happiness we have near us. Maybe we can find a way to grow up from our pasts instead of wish for them.
Here is my point. We should press on. Actively. Like we have a weight strapped on our backs. Towards our goals. We push forward. Perhaps many of our individual goals may be different. But I suggest a common goal as well.
“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” Harriet Beecher Stowe
We can’t change the past. We can’t bring people back from the dead. We can’t undo what has been done to us. The hurts happened, the pain is real and the scars will stay.
But for the love of God (literally), maybe the life and death of others can serve as a reminder to us that we don’t have forever. We only have now. That’s it. Nothing more is promised. It makes this TV show I am watching a total waste of time. Are deadlines, oil changes and relaxation necessary?
"The great irony, of course, is what we recognize in our moments of lucidity as unimportant eventually claims our entire attention, and we find ourselves wholly occupied with our wardrobes and cosmetics and careers and artifacts, knowing full well that these things are no more significant than our children's trinkets." –Thomas Howard, Christ the Tiger
I’m not suggesting that we abandon all reason. I am actually suggesting that we find a reason. Of course work, chores and leisure are important parts of life. But what is really important?
What is really, really, really important?
So make that phone call. Say what you need to say. Deal with life. Enjoy the good things. Work out the challenges. Make your life count. Figure out how to love.
Figure out how to love.
In memory of Caity Noelle Jones.