On death.
May 07, 2012

We knew that that day was coming, the day when their heart would stop beating and they would take their last breath.  We watched time march forward, slowly, one step and then another.

Death is an excellent teacher.  It reminds you to take advantage of the small moments you have left with everyone around you.  It reminds you that when you enter and exit this world, your needs are reduced to this: people that love you.  It reminds you that days are long but years are short.  It reminds you that laughter and love endure when all else fades to dust.

We came to the house to whisper our good-byes and make the promises Death reminds you to make.  The promises you should have been keeping all along.  You will appreciate more.  You will be more present.  You will be a stronger person.  You will love more fervently.  You will stand steady by those you cherish.  You will make an effort to find them when they are lost.  You will be there, you will navigate these tumultuous waters with them.

The call came on a Sunday morning.  We stood silent for a minute and reminisced.  Then we bought Donald that suit and tie that we’ve known he would need.  And we bought Charlotte a little black dress with a little black sweater and little black tights.

And I told her: this is Death, my love.

And I told her: this is Life, my darling.

Over the weekend, we came together.  We signed a guestbook.  We sat in a place of worship.  And there, among faces we knew and faces we didn’t know, we listened and we remembered and we honored the very best we could.

When the sun rose the next morning, I looked at my daughter sleeping between us in bed and felt that profound gratitude that only comes when you have come face-to-face with loss.  I kissed her forehead.  I thought about the questions about life and death that I’ve answered from her this week and the questions I will answer in the years to come - and I felt immensely lucky to have the chance to answer these questions at all.  It may be the cruelest of teachers, but I think we can all learn something from Death.  And in this house, after this death, that something is thanksgiving.

Rest in peace.  If there is one thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is that you are always dearly loved and sorely missed.

*** Comments are closed on this post.  I do not allow commentary on goings-on within my larger family community.  There are no exceptions to this rule.  If this post does anything, please let it remind you to take a moment to be more patient and more present today.  We all owe this world a death and we never know when it might come.

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