Today is a sad day. My children have to say good-bye to their first grandparent – their father’s father. Grandpa Roe was married to his wife for more than 60 years. I just can’t comprehend how painful it must feel for her right now.
For my children, this is a new experience. Saying good-bye at this level. They were young when my mom died. Now, as adults, they are going to start experiencing the inevitable but the incomprehensible.
Why does something we know — the most certain of all the things in life — feel so difficult when it occurs? Why can’t we prepare?
A few years back, I was very sick. For almost a week I could not get off the couch. Very unusual for me. And then one day, I looked out the windows of my living room and noticed the trees moving in the wind. I closed my eyes and brought my mother back into my mind. It was as if she was there, sitting next to me. I tried to talk with her but as I opened my mouth, she was gone.
At that same moment, and I’ve no idea why, a podcast came onto my phone of an interview with Maurice Sendak on NPR (maybe I hit the app on my phone but I must admit it was freaky). This interview was about life and death and turned out to be shortly before Sendak died and shortly after a couple of his friends had died. He was quite introspective in the interview.
The thing he hated the most about life, he said, was saying good-bye to the people he loved, “I cry a lot because I miss people.” He said. “I cry a lot because they die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more.”
Life is fragile and we grieve when someone dies because we have to say good-bye. And our memories of that person allow us to love them even more. But not only that, when someone dies, we also grieve because death brings an end to the other person’s memories of us. Those one-to-one memories that we have with that person. Know what I mean? Like, how our parents know us in a way no one else does and when they go, so do those memories they have of us as their children. Or, our spouses see elements of us that we keep hidden. When they go, so do those shared memories.
As I get to the end of this post I realize that I have nothing special or new to say about death. Death is, as it always has been, a quite certain and vivid reminder to cherish every day. I guess I just want to leave you with this:
To be remembered by another is to exist beyond the boundaries of ourself. To cease being remembered by that person is to taste our own mortality.
Sending my love to you all. XOXO
Enjoy the beauty of this interview: