A Lesson Learned
My husband and I were talking the other day while walking through the neighborhood. It was dark and the night was still. Perhaps the somber mood was appropriate as it matched my mood. Earlier in the day, I was recalling a previous memory of someone near and dear who has since left us.
For someone never short on words, I found myself rather tongue tied. How does one express such a loss that can’t be filled? There is a hollow place in my heart that will always remain and yet I know my husband’s hole is far greater than mine. His sense of loss from the passing of his son, his only son, is an impassable pain that far exceeds mine. And yet, I am still brought to tears if I recall some of my fondest memories of him. I never dreamed those would be the memories that would have to last a lifetime. I only wished for one last hug, one last phone call, one last conversation, one last anything. Now I have to settle for prayers.
I often wonder is there a good way to let go of someone before they leave your world, watch them die slowly so thereby having a chance to say the long good bye or a passing where there is no chance to do so it is over quickly. Maybe it is just plain self serving to even consider such a thing. It would be too easy to be influenced by what is easier for you, the one left living verses the one that is dying. And besides, this is all God’s call, He controls destiny.
Each moment is truly precious. It is so easy to forget that and not treat it as such. In the blink of an eye, we or someone we love dearly could be gone. I had no idea, the last call would be the very last call ever from Dan. Who thinks that of a step son at age thirty two? Had I known the last message on the recorder would be the last one, I think I would have left it on our machine for years. I don’t want to forget the sound of his voice. No one sounds like Dan and I miss his sound.
Gone are the days of Dan coming over and eating every last Reese cup in our house. No more will the phone ring and we hear his voice on the other end with updates on his live and be overjoyed when something good is happening. His children will miss his smiles. No one to send Happy Birthday cards to when his birthday rolls around anymore even though he was too young to die. That trip we planned one day to take him to Disney World in Orlando, well it is never going to happen. He won’t be walking his daughter down the aisle or kissing a future daughter in law who marries his son. He won’t be there for either of his parents when they age and he won’t be there to hold our hands when we just want to be with him to let him know we love and miss him.
I am not so naive to think we have the market on death or loss. I have attended far too many funerals for cancer victims over the last five years. I also know everyone experiences death many times in their lifetime. Many have felt just as cruel a loss as we have. Mothers, fathers, children, wives. It is never easy. Going through this experience, though, has been different than another other death for me. This is far different than losing a grandparent, a great aunt, a casual friend. This person was part of the heart of us. This is someone we were certain would be a part of our future in some capacity, someone we were eager to see what his future held for him and his children!
Death can be cruel to those of us left on earth. We celebrate the joy our loved ones created in our lives. We celebrate their legacy and their endless peace now in eternity. We rejoice in it and that gives us comfort, most days. But yet we still grief, to varying degrees. We often times have trouble carrying on. Some more so than others.
Unfortunately, even those that move on well with life, have stormy days that come out of nowhere when the pain grips the soul. Those days, when it hits me, I miss Dan so much that it feels like a fragment of my heart breaks off. The finality of not seeing or talking to him ever again is recalled like it is the first time I have ever faced it all over again.
I had to write a paper in college on if I could spend one day with someone deceased who would it be and what would I say. At the time, I picked my Grandma Gliatti. I loved her passionately and had such fond memories. I think now I would have to change it and pick Dan. Yeah, I most certainly would pick Dan Bronold. I think some of what I would say is below.
“Dan, you always had a good heart inside. Everyone that knew you well could feel that. When you died, your father, mother and I received countless cards, letters, emails and phone calls from friends that loved and missed you. Each one had stories to tell of what a wonderful support system you were and a great friend.
Those stories made us laugh. Some made us laugh so hard we cried. The pictures your dad got, oh if you had seen his face you would have died laughing! They were pictures of you clowning around and he was so proud of your ability to make your friends enjoy life and be happy to be around you.
Your mom held together well Dan but was so distraught inside that you were gone. You meant the world to her so please keep a close eye on her from heaven. You are needed by her and by us even from that place up there. You thought you needed us but we need you too.
Love, to me, is not just a word, but an intense feeling, something I do not say lightly or take for granted. I genuinely feel love in my heart for you and appreciate your ability to find love in your heart for me over the years and allow me into your life.
Your parents may not have been perfect but everything they did they did out of love. Your father may have seemed very hard on you Dan but he was so saddened that you did not believe in yourself and kept giving up on yourself. He tried everything to get you to believe in yourself and love yourself and you just didn’t. Don’t mistake that disappointment for a lack of love because that deep profound love was always there Dan, it still is.
I am glad you have seen and felt the Hand of God and his everlasting love. I am happy you have found peace. I am saddened that you were the one person I waited one more time to say all the things I wanted to say and then never got the chance. Know we will meet again and until then, know we hold you alive in our hearts in deep everlasting love Dan and we will miss you horribly until we are together again. “
I didn't see this coming. I didn't get to say any of this to him. Now he is gone. For someone who prides herself on being open and honest and never holding back words, with Dan I did. The silence between calls became longer and it became easier to just keep silent rather than say what was in my heart when things in his life were on a downward spiral. Maybe that is when he needed to hear them the most? Things were left unsaid, always on the hope for a brighter tomorrow and then I would say them to Dan. That day is never going to come.
Regrets can be painful lessons.