After my mom died, a friend of mine sent me a book called “Healing After Loss” by Martha Whitmore Hickman. It is filled with daily meditations for working through grief. This friend tragically lost his partner and told me that this book has really helped him through some tough times. I don’t read it every day, but I pick it up now and then when I need to reflect and think about mom or Francine.
Someone gave the book to my dad as well. He reads it everyday. Today he called me and asked me if I had read it, (which I hadn’t). He told me that he thought it would be perfect for my blog. I went to my bedroom, where I keep the book by my bedside, and read today’s passage. I am quoting it here, word for word. These are not my words, and I want to be sure that credit is given where it is due, so thank you to Martha Whitmore Hickman for this:
Who is ready? We have our plans, things we’re looking forward to – life going on at its sometimes unpleasant but nonetheless predictable pace.
Then something happens -like an accident, or a death, or an illness – that changes everything, forces us to reappraise our priorities and, often, reset our lives.
People who have come close to disaster and been able to wheel free have shown a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures of life, for the gift of each day, and a resolve not to put off pleasures or acts of kindness because, “another day” may not come.
We who have lost loved ones have also learned the value of simple gifts, of not putting off kind words or actions, because we never know when events will change our world, the expected developments of our lives, and the intended recipients of our kind words and actions may be gone.
How true this rings out to me! I have stressed the kindness factor for a long time now, but really, doing something everyday, and not putting things off is so important. I keep thinking of things I should have done with my mom. Places we should have gone, things we should have seen. We just kept waiting for her to feel better, or be in better health. It did not happen and now, there are regrets. Even the last phone call I had with her was one that made me frustrated – never realizing that would be the last time we spoke. She never called me during the school day, knowing that I could not talk, so when I saw that it was her number on the phone, I assumed that it must have been something very important. I answered it – it was just her telling me what time family dinner would be that night. Something that NEVER changed. For over twenty years, it has been the same time, same place. Frustrated, I said, “I know mom, – same as always but I am teaching right now” and hung up. A few days later I thought about it and realized that for some reason she made that call, even knowing that she couldn’t call me at that time, but somehow , (and I know that this sounds ridiculous), but maybe somehow she knew it was going to be the last time we would hear each others’ voices. I talked to her every day and for some reason the day before we did not talk, so I felt like it was her way of saying good bye. Silly maybe, but those words about “family dinner” were the last ones I had with her.
Francine and I had also had a disagreement before she died. We did not ever resolve it and I still feel badly about it. Guilty too.
I think that this is why these words are really poignant and really strike a chord. Live your life to the fullest. Do what you can to spread kindness and goodness. Enjoy the simple pleasures in life and reassess what is important and what really can be put aside. We really never know when it will change but when it does, at least we can know that we lived our lives to the fullest.