“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.” –Bruce Lee
Grief is a funny thing. There are moments where it is so thick you can hardly breath, and other times grief seems like its just a second on the clock.
This week has been a constant reminder of the shortness of life, along with the reality that we were not made for this world. CS Lewis said it the best: If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.
Truth is that we were made for another land. A land that is far different from what we know the here and now to be.
On Sunday I was once again faced with the ugliness of death. The brutal swing of deaths fist striking the heart of every person involved. You see, dear friends of ours were involved in a heart wrenching car accident that claimed the life of a beloved friend. In one moment life forever changed.
Isn’t that just like death? To slap us in the face and remind us we are not made for this place, but for something so much greater than we could even know.
Every year on March 18th I have that same slap of death hit me square between the eyes. The trouble I have with it is that I see it coming. As soon as March rolls around, I see the sneer of death lingering around the corner, knowing that it will come and grip me as it always does on the 18th.
If your heart knows pain, if it knows what it feels like to long for something that it can no longer have. When your heart feels like that what is there to do, but resign to the fate of the broken heart and remember.
Remembering is what most people try to escape from in the grieving process.
We don’t want to remember their laugh, the way their nose wrinkled with they smelled something foul. We can’t seem to bring ourselves to think on the way they would comfort, hold, kiss, or even cry. And we certainly can not bring our hearts to think the thought of the last things we said to them, how we felt about them, or how we should have told them more.
We can not fathom the idea of deleting them from our phones, computers, or lives but that is what death does, isn’t it? Death hits delete but doesn’t empty the trash can and the remains of their presence is still there.
Helen Keller said So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good. And isn’t that what remembering is?
When we live in the pool of grief, there is no way we can imagine remembering, but friends, that is what we have to do. We have to dig deep and take the hit. We have to embrace the harsh wind of death and remember. Why? Because it is in the remembering that they, those we love and have lost, keep living.
Every March 18th, or as close as work will allow, I take the two hour drive up the coast from Ventura to Pismo Beach California. I drive with the windows down, music pumping, and tears. I spend the day remembering.
I remember the times she made me sit at the piano and practice my scales even when playing Barbies sounded like such a better idea. I focus on the times we would play cards till 2 in the morning and she would still beat my socks off, or I would sneak in a win or two with her looking at me with big eyes and saying Why won’t you let me win, don’t you love your Nana? She was a sneaky lady!
When I arrive at the beach where we would walk and share dreams, talk about life’s issues, and the place where we laid her to rest, I sit and stare out onto the water and remember.
When it comes to remembering we have to be honest. And real.
Too many times, friends, we make people out to be saints or as though they never had a bad bone in their bodies. That isn’t fair. We have to remember it all. The real, raw, and blemished parts too if we want to get a full picture of the person that was lost to us.
We need to take time to remember. The good: laughing at Jaws and Tremors while eating Chex mix. The bad: her prejudice and pride over her “perfect” family. And the ugly: the way her body started to betray her and abandon her every sense.
We have to remember all of it. No, it won’t bring them back. No, it won’t change the hurt but it will make us able to live again. Breathe again.
Remembering is a way for us to take them with us each step of everyday. Remembering charges us with carrying them into all we are, all we are becoming, and all we create. Remembering makes this memory of a person who was larger than life, joy abounding, and love to all who met them be imprinted on our hearts, minds, and sometimes bodies.
My Nana has been gone for three terribly long, short years, and I feel her every day. I miss her every morning as I drink my tea. I cry for her in my dark moments in the dead of night. I think of her when I am checking out the sales rack at any store. I find her in the sunshine, the faces of flowers, and in every laugh that comes from my gut! I sense her when I doubt my own heart. I crave her touch when I don’t want to be around anyone else. I remember the times I got “talked” to, and the times she was so angry with my choices she wouldn’t talk to me. I have to keep remembering.
I have to keep remembering for fear that she will fade away in my mind.
I have to write out every good, bad, and ugly thing so she keeps living in my memories. I have to charge myself with not coloring her with paint that made her seem saint like, cause she wasn’t. She was real, raw, and highly demanding! I have to put on the earrings she gave me, wear the necklace she used to hold onto in church, and look through all the pictures I can get a hold of.
We all have someone we need to remember. Someone who needs to live on in our lives. We just have to take the time to remember.
Still I am learning,
Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.
– Dr. Suess