This morning I woke up to a message from my parents halfway round the world, letting me know that someone I knew a long time ago and only a couple of years older than me, was tragically killed in a car accident along with her middle child and only son. We were never close, but at one time our families were. We grew up attending the same church and I used to travel to bible study classes with her and her Dad. There’s a shared history. I was sad.But I got up and got myself ready for the day and travelled to work. Once there I quickly googled details of the accident and there was a photo of the person I knew. Even though 20 odd years have passed since I saw her last, the same happy vibrant smiling person with the exciting eyes was looking back at me. Her son was only 17, probably a senior in High School, just about to start out on his own life’s path. My heart broke.
All of a sudden I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My chest tightened, my throat constricted and the tears came. At that moment my boss walked into the office – we agreed I would come home. The barrage of emotions and memories that flooded me on my drive home surprised me. The physical and searing pain of grief is something I’ve felt all too often in my own life and I cried for her surviving children. I cried for her husband. I cried for her parents and siblings. I completely and utterly understand the pain of the grief that her family is feeling. The raw gut-wrenching heart-breaking reality that someone you knew, held, loved, confided in, played with, laughed with, made memories with, sang with, or watched sleep, is no longer here.
I was reminded of the news of my sister’s passing in early 2010. My funny, tiny, feisty, older sister who lay down to rest after a fall and never woke up. It was Boxing Day. When my father called to tell me that they had run tests and she would never again wake up, my legs crumpled beneath me and I collapsed in a heap on our back deck. I don’t know how long I was there sobbing. My husband was with me. It might have been seconds or hours. I don’t know. The days between receiving that phone call and the day my father called to tell me they had switched the life support off and she was no longer physically here, are days I cannot remember. They passed in a blur. The physical pain of thinking or breathing was almost too much. This is the pain I know Tammy’s family is feeling. They will never hear her laugh or see her smile. She will not be there to dress her daughters for their weddings or attend their graduations. Not in this life anyway. She will become a memory, someone to look at in photographs. Someone her daughters will tell their children about. I know this because I have lived it.
This life is hard. It is tough. It is a journey that none of us knows when or how it will end. It can be tiring and scary, but also so exciting, filled with new adventures, love, and the incredible beauty of humanity and our wonderful world. Today one of my dearest friends is having tests done on a lump she discovered in her breast. She has two young children and isn’t yet 40. We were chatting this morning before this new stage of her life and we agreed that we will either rejoice at the news together, or we will deal with the situation together. Life isn’t life without these experiences. They supposedly make us stronger, and yes I said that rather cynically, but I suppose they do.
Yesterday another special friend told me about her new business idea. It’s a great idea and was exciting to discuss it with her and she said she has nothing to lose. After her eldest child was rushed into hospital last Thursday for an emergency appendectomy, and a number of other things have happened to them ranging from minor inconveniences to a very ill child in theatre and on morphine. Life is Life.
We either hide away or face it head on. There have been days recently where I’ve wanted to run and hide. We have made some difficult decisions in recent weeks and my husband and I have relied on each other and been each other’s strength and stability. All these decisions mean that Change is on the cards for our family. I don’t yet know what form that Change will take, but it is inevitable. I am desperately praying for the faith, wisdom and courage to be open to new opportunities and experiences. To not try and control everything, but to trust that someone much wiser than me has a plan for me and my family and that while we work hard, are honest and true to the eternal principles of goodness; and place our focus on unworldly things; trusting that all will work out for us as it should, it actually will.
Give your loved ones an extra cuddle tonight. Tell them you love them. Forget about the nonsense and hold fast to what is truly important. Enjoy the time you have together. I’m trying to.