This Mindful Midweek is for those of you who have lost someone you deeply loved. It happens to all of us by the time we reach a certain age. I have a short list, which includes my mom and dad, my brother, and my best friend, Frank. Some time has passed since the last death, but the lingering memories can be triggered by a cloud formation, a dusty book cover, actually, almost anything.
Unlike some of my friends, I don’t mind entering the emotional space these people left behind, and staying there for a little visit. I have the kind of memory that can forget dates and numbers that should be automatic, but I rarely forget the warmth of a hug, or the words that went unsaid.
When I’m being extra honest with myself, and accepting my tendency to have much of my thinking and feelings be self-centered, I recognize that I greatly miss that affectionate image the other person had of me. Take my friend Frank: he had total confidence in me. He enjoyed my humor, and encouraged my writing and risk-taking. Frank was brilliant, and my elder by nearly 30 years, yet he saw me as a colleague and an equal. Without Frank, I would not have achieved the successes I’ve enjoyed in my lifetime. No one has ever thought I was as good as Frank thought I was. Every now and then, he made me believe it. What could be better or more powerful than that?
I had different relationships with my brother, my mom and my dad, but each had unique and satisfying aspects that can never be replaced. When people I love die, I’m not so good at celebrating the abundant and beautiful lives they led. For me, it’s a real bummer. Sure, I can cling to the memories, but my life will never be the same. The empty space will not be filled, even though I invest in and appreciate other friendships and loves. God, I really miss the way those four people felt about me. I know that’s a bit selfish, but it’s honest.
Perhaps I should apologize for getting a bit melancholy with this Mindful Midweek, but I’ll bet most of you identify and appreciate how loved ones dying is a fundamental part of our living. I’d be interested in learning how you cope with the deaths of those you love. We grieve for a time, and then remember forever. At some point, it will be our turn to be the remembered. I hope I measure up to those in front of me.