Sunday, January 4, 2009

Loss and Life Lessons

A comment here from my friend Kelly sent my thoughts whirling backwards... It made me rethink some difficult times, and it reminds me of how blessed I've been.

There is a balance in all things.

Death. Life. Grief. Joy. Turbulence. Tranquility.

My husband's death brought a number of "expected" emotions to my world... upheaval, self-doubt, anger, loss. It brought a writhing tumbling mass of tasks to be completed. I was overwhelmed. It also brought some unexpected reactions. I became immensely focused... so many decisions to be made, and my son to be guided/aided through his own maze of loss. I decided, very much against the wishes of nearly all my family and friends to hold two for the law enforcement community early in the day, and another more traditional "viewing" later that same day. I was told that it would drain me. Instead, I was given a wonderful gift. People came, shared their stories and told me about how my husband had touched their lives. Funny stories, poignant ones, from every possible time in his life...and from some of the most unlikely sources, including a couple from people he had arrested at one time or other. All of these people shared my loss. With each person, I gained a bit of strength, and a bit of resolve. Several times, well-meaning friends tried to get me to sit, or leave for a while... They didn't understand that this was something tangible I could do for Hank. It felt like Something I could give back to those people who had taken time from their lives to reach out to me. At that point, I'm not sure I understood my motivations... all I knew was that it was helping. Now, I realize that we were celebrating his life, not surrendering to his loss.

Over time, a number of good things happened... I went back to school, and changed careers. I had talked about it for years, but because I made good money at the bank, we had put off my return to school. As a direct result of Hank's death, I began to understand how valuable "today" is. I try very hard not to leave things unsaid, and work to change the things in my life that I don't like. We have to be catalysts in our own lives...not make excuses and wait for that nebulous "someday". Now... works just fine.

My son is grown now... a man we can be proud of. He's independant and caring. He volunteers in the community, has a good job, and still makes time for his family. I used to tease him, telling him he got the worst of his parents "bad" traits (his dad's stubbornness, and my mouth). Now, that tenacity and honesty are tempered for the most part by plain old common sense. The loss of his dad taught him a level of compassion that wasn't there before. The way Hank lived set a standard for John...and nothing pleases John more than to be compared to his dad. Another blessing.

I learned that the only things I can control are my own actions, and my reactions to others. Worry simply robs me of my own time. Anger makes *me* feel bad, not someone else. It's far, far better to spend time looking for the joys in life and spend time seeking out those people and things that make you happy, or feel more fulfilled.

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