A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
Grief is tricky, Death is often avoided, Loss is heartbreaking and debilitating and talking about life beyond all three of these experiences is not always the first choice for dinner table conversation. Yet, they form so much of our life here on Earth, the notion of each is as integral to our experience as Birth, Living and Happiness.
Recently, tragedy befell friends of friends. First a brother died in a tragic accident in June, and then the older sister died in December after being hit by a car.
Neither were your usual youthful tragedies brought on by ‘silly things young people do’ (specifically drugs, drink driving and speeding) – they were inexplicable tragic accidents which alone were heart wrenching but together, within seven months of each other, to one family, almost beyond comprehensible.
My heart breaks and I find tears escaping for these strangers to whom life has dealt the cruellest of blows. I’m not sure anyone could even begin to try and fathom why these two people passed away so young, or why it happened to one family.
But I can guarantee that many parents, brothers, sisters and people who heard of these accidents, knew this family or were friends with these young people, turned to each other and said – ‘it would make you hold on so much tighter, wouldn’t it?’
And it would. Because losing the ones we love, in whatever circumstance it occurs, is something we never want. Grief is the human emotion we are most scared of and try hardest to avoid, and so, in the face of a tragedy such as this, we would hold on tighter, keep them closer, play it safer.
But you see, it is there that perhaps, we miss the lesson in all of this.
We only get one life. It’s not a dress rehearsal, we don’t get another chance, we can’t redo it, we just get it once.
And it’s not about doing it ‘right’, it’s about just doing it. Living.
And although 19 years and 32 years do not seem like long enough on this planet (and they’re not at all), the fact remains that it is not just a matter of ticking off the years, it is what you do with every one of them that gives value and magnitude to your life.
No doubt every person will know someone who has passed away young or before their time from illness, often they become inspirational not just because they fight so hard and they suffer so much, but moreso because they truly know the value of the time they have here and against all odds they live as much as they can, every day. Whilst the rest of us are getting on with our daily doldrums – work, university, complaining about the weather and so forth, paying bills, lamenting the housework, there are some who are grateful when they wake up every morning because they don’t know how many mornings they have left. Others who cherish the time they get to spend feeling the rain fall on their face because being out of hospital in the fresh air is a rare occurrence. And a few more who love the ones closest to them so fiercely that they may never know another love like it. They truly know the value of life and have perfected the art of living it.
Whilst it is tempting in the face of a tragedy like this to hold on tighter, to protect, to keep each other near for the rest of our days, this reaction does not equate to living a full life, instead just a shadow of a life, lived in sorrow and in fear of what life might bring. And each of us deserves so much more than that.
The challenge is to recognise the value of life, and how precious our time here is and then to go and actually embrace it and use it.
Love those closest to you – harder, stronger, more passionately, openly, with abandon, always. And then, set them free. Send them out there to live their lives knowing that they are loved by you.
Because when the full stop eventually comes, and none of us quite know when that will be, I want to die knowing that I lived every minute of my life, and that I lived it knowing that every minute I was loved.