When someone dies, it feels like the world gets a little quieter. A lot of times we hear people say that when someone who is older or suffering in some way dies, it is a blessing. Sometimes, death is a shocking event that takes us completely by surprise. Regardless of how it happens or when it occurs, it creates a void in our lives. It creates an empty space in that place in our hearts that was once carved away for someone we loved dearly.
My husband's grandfather, Louie, passed away yesterday at the age of 91. He had fifteen children and was a farmer by trade. When I married my husband, I became the 100th member of the family--it was (and still is) an honor to be part of such an amazing legacy. That's me, on my wedding day, dancing with one of his crutches. Four years later, the family is 122+ strong. It's amazing, really. He began it all by marrying the love of his life all those years ago.
I thought a lot yesterday, and still today, about death--and living. I remind myself that I don't often think of these things until someone dies, and for that I feel ashamed. Why is it that we wait for someone to leave this Earth before we step back and think about how we choose to spend our time here? Why wait until it hits us that our time isn't promised to us that we feel inspired to really start living? The ticking of our own clock gets a little louder, and more profound, in those moments where it occurs to us that we won't be young forever. Or, the chance to really understand the importance of making the best of every precious moment. Death has a way of bringing that all back to us in waves, doesn't it?
I'm not often reminded of my own mortality, but losing someone dear always manages to dredge up those things in my own life. I should take more chances. I should stop dwelling on the negative. I should spend every last moment doing things that make me deliriously happy. I should learn to let things go--the things that really don't matter--to make room for the things that do. I should turn off the radio and just drive in silence instead. I should take shorter showers and go for longer walks.
Though he wasn't my grandfather, it still reminds me of all the things our grandparents represent in our lives. I was fortunate enough to grow up with three of my grandparents and today, I sincerely miss their presence in my life. I think a lot about what it means to live that long---over ninety years--and the strength and wisdom it takes to live such a full life. My mother has always told me that grandparents are an amazing judge of character. If we brought someone to a family function that my grandmother didn't like, she would always say so--and she was always right. The opposite was also true; when she told me my husband was a good man, I knew she was right.
I think a lot too, about what it might have been like to live through the Great Depression. To know what it was like to fight a war. Or, to raise children in an era where people were trustworthy and doors did not need to be locked. I wish I had asked my grandparents more questions. I wish I had listened a little closer when they told me stories or gave me advice. I didn't realize the inheritance I was receiving until it had been all but lost due to dementia or illness.
More than anything, I am completely captivated by true love. Our grandparents lived in an era where divorce wasn't common--but long marriages were. I think a lot about what marriage meant back then, and what it might be like to lose the love of my life. That's what marriage really is all about. Sticking together, through every obstacle life has to offer, for decades. And though death may separate someone from loved ones, it also reunites true love again. And that's a beautiful thing.