|A type of spiraea flower, taken last Thursday|
There are several reasons that I decided to start with this topic: loss. The first is that yesterday I got on Facebook and learned that my nephew Joseph (he's the son of my late sister PJ) went to his father's home because his dad wasn't answering the phone and he got worried. He found his father lying on the kitchen floor, dead. Ken and my sister PJ had been divorced for a very long time, but I saw him last at PJ's memorial service last year. He looked the same, only much older.
For Joey (as he will always be known to me), he has now lost both his mother and his father before he turns fifty himself. I'm glad he is surrounded by family and friends who care for him, because he will get over this with their help, and time. It's pretty shocking to discover someone you love who has died unexpectedly, I'm sure. It's never happened to me and I hope it never does. But I sure know how to deal with loss, which comes in many shapes and sizes during our mortal lives. Just getting older means having to deal with the loss of our youth, our mental and physical faculties, and as we age we deal with the loss of our parents and other older relatives. That's just in a normal life, but sometimes we must find ways to recover from other, more unexpected loss.
Last week I wrote about the importance of our social circles, the people we love and who love us. The downside to that is caring about the welfare of so many people, because they will continue to grow old, sicken and die, just like we will. I suppose that one reason why some of us decide to limit our interaction with other people is to minimize our losses. Then as we try to insulate ourselves from loss, we close ourselves up and make our lives miserable. I've seen that happen more than once. No, it's better to just take the pain and suffering, which is part of living anyway. I wonder if that is where hypochondria has its roots: hoping to be vigilant enough to catch something going awry in our body before it goes too far. Or maybe it's simply a way to occupy one's mind.
Dealing with loss is never something one gets good at, even though we have so many chances to practice. I am learning to find other things to do on the weekends, when it occurs to me that I would normally have been driving down to the Drop Zone. I realize that it was definitely the right time by the contentment I feel with my daily life, in spite of having quit that activity. I'm learning to take care of myself in ways that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, back when I was a youngster of 65. There are times when I catch my reflection in a glass and don't immediately know who that person is. Time goes by, and those little imperceptible changes accumulate in a single instant of recognition.
There are even harder losses to deal with than those that come with the passage of time: loss of reputation, for instance. When someone does something despicable and thinks he got away with it and then is discovered (I'm thinking of Bill Cosby here), he must deal with the aftermath for the rest of his life. I am amazed at how some powerful people believe that they are above it all and can do what they want to others. Well, his legacy is gone forever. How very sad, all of it. Every one of us must find ways to deal with the loss of loved ones, but not many of us will walk in his shoes, thank heavens.
I saw a movie yesterday that got me started on this track, I guess: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. It's a movie about a high school senior (Greg), his best friend Earl, and Rachel, a girl who develops leukemia and how Greg's mother forces him to become friends with Rachel during her chemotherapy treatments. It's an excellent movie, and there are plenty of laughs and poignant moments to appreciate. I walked out of the theater with tears in my eyes but so very glad to have seen it. I may watch it again. It's based on a book, so my next step will be to read it; I've put a hold on it at the library, but I'm #15 in line so it will be awhile. Often I do this: put a book on hold and then when enough time passes, I cannot remember how I heard of it. It's kind of a nice way to be surprised when I get a notice from the library that I've got a book waiting for me. And I usually enjoy them and even if I don't, I can just return them to the library unread. I do that, too.
For whatever reason, I'm filled this morning with rather strong emotions, feelings of loss and the passage of time, of those I have loved who are gone. I realize that their memory still lives within me, and thinking of someone I haven't laid eyes on for decades does not diminish their importance to me. In some ways, they are even more present. Sitting with an old picture and remembering when Mama and Daddy were young and vibrant, when I was a child, can feel joyful, if I let it and don't try to hang on to what was.
Mercy! Another post got written while I wasn't looking. Another Sunday has begun, and I have fulfilled the first task of the day. All is quiet outside; for some reason I don't hear any birds singing (oh, there they are), and I notice that we once again have overcast skies instead of unrelenting sunshine. It's not quite 7:00am in the morning, and this habit I have of sitting in bed while my partner sleeps next to me is so familiar and reassuring. I am remembering to notice all this, because there will be a day, hopefully far in the future, when this will be a memory, too. Until next Sunday, I wish you all happiness and that you, too, will be smiling many times between now and then.