Time Marches On

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” (Kahlil Gibran)

These words gave me a great deal of comfort when my dad died two years ago.  They summed up how it felt to lose someone who brought you great joy in your life.  That joy is made all that much more poignant by the fact that it is now gone.

I’ve been struggling with a multitude of feelings this past week.  The simplest things, like going to the Hallmark store to buy a card for a coworker, left me feeling morose instead of uplifted.  I was hit by the fact that I would have been, in the past, buying all sorts of cards – a birthday card for my dad’s birthday today, a mother’s day card for my mom, an anniversary card for them both – and I felt my loss profoundly.  This time of year is a tricky one to navigate – lots of significant days to notice what has changed.  I miss my dad, I miss my parents, I miss my sister.  It comes to me in waves and I am reminded how fresh the wounds still are.   No surprise there, really.  Just a part of what it takes to get through this maze of grief. 

The card I bought was for our office administrator.   Wednesday was the Office Professional’s day, and in recognition of that, I took her to lunch and had a card for people to sign in appreciation.  One of the things I have done for the past several years is to buy a gift for each of the administrators on our floor.  It is a small gesture of gratitude for the work they do – even though they don’t work directly for me, they are always helpful and pleasant. One of them asked me why I do it – why do I go out of my way to do that for them?  And I thought about it and I realized that it was my dad’s doing.  He taught me to take the time to reach out to people and make the human connection.  He told me that when you do, you never know what it might mean to that person and more importantly, what it can do for you.  I explained that to her and was reminded again of the legacy my dad left.  It is one way I can honor him through carrying on his tradition and it feels good to continue to plant those seeds of caring whenever I can. 

Today, I saw some glorious trees bursting into their spring time best, glowing from the sunlight that hit them.  The sky behind them was dark and stormy, and the contrast of light and dark made the trees look especially lovely and vivid.  It struck me then – it is the contrast that made them so.  Light and dark, joy and sorrow – it takes one to make the other stand out. I am lucky to feel the way I did about my father and I miss him dearly.  He lives on in the seeds of kindness he sowed and I will continue on in kind, in honor of his memory.

All Will Be Well

I sat down this morning to start this entry and wondered what it would be called. I knew I wanted to write about the passing of “firsts” – the first Christmas without dad, the first Mother’s day without mom – but the first thing that came to me was “all will be well”. I knew I remembered those words from somewhere, but had to think about why they came to me now. So, turning to my trusted friend, Google, I looked it up. And there in the third entry was the quote and the name Julian of Norwich. Jan sent me a poem by this woman after dad died and we discussed whether it would be a good reading for his memorial service. I realized that this title was something Jan planted in my brain a while ago and is her message to me. All will be well.

We have made it through several major milestones over the past 19 months since dad died. We are almost at a year for mom and only 3 months into the cycle for Jan. The hardest time for me was last spring when we were faced with the first anniversary of dad’s birthday, Mother’s Day, their 61st wedding anniversary and Father’s Day all in a cluster. It was only a few months after mom died and I was still reeling from that twist of fate. I reached out to my brothers and sisters and we shared our thoughts and feelings with each other, some by phone, others by email. It was helpful to share the experience and not try to white knuckle through it. I decided that I would celebrate on April 28th with the first annual “Joe Kearney Day”, where in his honor, I asked people to remember him by doing something that would connect them to people, as was his style. The idea of using his best trait as a way of honoring him felt right – and even if only one person did, it would still make for a better day in the world. I did the same on Mom’s birthday this week and plan to for Jan’s in June.

Now that it is post-holiday season, I can say I’ve made it through another first. I had mixed emotions – sadness at not having three of my most important people in my life to share it with, relief at not having a medical drama being played out during December, and nostalgia as I remembered past Christmases with family. I carried on some traditions that were my parents to help fill the void they leave and having gifts under the tree that Jan picked out was a blessing. I even found gift tags from earlier years that had her handwriting on them that I was able to reuse. It felt like she was here with us.

With each passing event or milestone, there is wistfulness for that which is lost, that which is remembered, and that which is fading to the past. I want to hang on to my people, not let them slip away. I want to hold their memories close and honor them in some way. And yet I feel, at a very deep level, that all will be well. I know, because I’ve had that message delivered to me several times now. I choose to listen to it and look for the good in the days to come.

All Shall Be Well

Life
is a precious thing
to me

and a little thing:

my life is a little thing,
when it will end here
is God’s secret.

And the world
is a little thing,

like a hazelnut
in his–her hand–
but it is in his everkeeping,
it is in his ever-loving,
it is in his ever-making,

how should anything be amiss?

Yes, all shall be well,
and all will be well,
“and thou shalt see thyself
that all manner of thing
shall be well.”

Kind friends,

I pray God grant you
all your good wishes,
desires, and dreams–

it is all in the choosing,
it is all in the asking.

Yes, all shall be well,
and all will be well,
“and thou shalt see thyself
that all manner of thing
shall be well.”

Julian of Norwich
Ca. 1342-1425