Death, Loss And Their Potential To Awaken Life
As I sat in a local breakfast spot with two of my best girlfriends this morning I received a phone call that a young woman my family knows passed away in a drowning accident yesterday evening. She was a local middle school teacher who left behind her husband and two young children, both under the age of four.
If you've ever had this happen, especially if you've lost someone close to you, then you know the feelings that set in as your mind struggles to digest the reality of sudden and tragic loss. Loss at any stage of life or by any means is difficult but there is something about someone young and healthy who is there one day and then suddenly gone the next.
As I sat mulling over the details in my head, struggling to make any kind of sense of it all, I came to the realization that there is no way to make sense of this kind of loss. It was far too soon. Nothing about it makes logical sense or seems fair.
Sometimes death just feels like one of life's most unbearably cruel jokes.
This kind of loss is one of life's greatest unanswered questions, it's unforgiving injustice.
Although we weren't close, still I sat reminiscing about the last quick encounter I had with her just weeks ago, replaying her smile, the kindness in her eyes and the carefree way in which I watched her played with her children while on their little family weekend getaway.
She didn't know then that she had just a few short weeks of time left to make her mark, nor did I. I wondered what taste those few moments in my presence had left her with. Had my last exchange with her been warm and kind?
As I left my girlfriend's this morning I waved bye to them and shouted out, "I love you both!" Something I don't normally do, but it had happened.
Once again my heart had been awakened to the sacred fleetingness of life.
How many times have I been reminded...and then forgotten again?
I forget every time I hang up the phone too quickly because I am irritated with a family member. Every time I have been short with my children because they were moving too slowly as we rush out for an early morning appointment, or walked out the door without telling my husband how much I love him. How many times have I been in too much of a hurry to give a warm smile to the barista at the coffee shop as I handed her my change and rushed away with my morning coffee?
Far too many to count.
There is something about loss and death that awakens us to the too easily forgotten sacredness of life.
I can't help but wonder what she would say if she could come back and tell us one last thing? I wonder if she would tell us to slow down? To stop and listen more intently. To smile more, hug more, laugh more. And to show love like it's the very last time you'll see the person who stands before you now. Because life is so fragile, and you just never know when that time will have come...and it will have gone away again.
Slow down. Love more.
Maybe this is just my one frail attempt at redeeming death. But I believe that maybe if we let it, death has it's own way of awakening life within us.
Rachel Rowell @ saltedgrace.com