Beautiful. Perfect. Awe-inspiring. A gift from Above.
I struggle to type these words about another snowfall blanketing our area. Yet, this morning, as I take in the brilliant white splendor of the snow in the bright sun, I must say they are the most apt words I can use to describe the outdoors this morning.
What I wanted to type, and what I said to myself as I braced yesterday for yet another winter storm—in early March, for Pete’s sake–were these words describing our winter so far: Interminable. Ugly. Painful. Never-ending. Soul-draining.
While I thought those words, and I fight not to continue to think them, I am choosing to stay positive.
Because, after all, it is always a choice.
Choosing to relish these weather conditions has always come easier to Gail and Suzanne. Especially the wind. The cursed Kansas wind, in my book. Not in theirs. As Gail says, “Embrace it. There is nothing you can do to change it.” Wise words.
“People of the South Wind” is the translation of our state’s name from the Kanza tribe of Native Americans. This wind, however, sculpted a beautiful scene in our backyard this morning.
It is early March in Kansas. It could be 70 degrees, or it could be 4 degrees, with a sub-zero wind chill. We take what we get. We have no choice.
I WISH spring would hurry up and arrive.
Interminable. Ugly. Painful. Never-ending. Soul-draining. These are the words I would use not only to describe this winter, but the deep grief we endured when we lost our parents. Eleven years ago today, March 3rd, 2008, we saw our parents for the last time at our grandmother’s funeral. It was a beautiful celebration of a long and blessed life, and we shared a wonderful afternoon with them, not knowing it would be our last moments together. The next day, March 4th, they departed on their three-hour journey home, but never arrived.
We needed and accepted any and all expressions of sympathy immediately after they died, and for a long time after.
We have come a long way since then. We will be forever grateful for the support we received from so many people. We no longer need it, though it helped sustain us through the darkest days of our lives.
Since then, we have turned that black square on the calendar into March Forth. With that support, time and continued perseverance, we now see their lives in full splendor: Beautiful. Perfect. Awe-inspiring. A gift from Above.
For those of you who were at their funeral—there were so many, and we remain so humbled by the obvious love and respect they earned—please recall Mom’s message. And please continue to take it to heart.
For everyone, please use every moment of every day you possibly can to make the relationships in your life all they can be. If you have either, or both of your parents, let them know how much you love them. If you need to make peace with your parents or anyone, do it now. They may not be here tomorrow.
Make your life all you want it to be. Start today on something you have always wanted to do. Put a jigsaw puzzle together. Learn to play the piano, even if no one ever hears it. Write the poetry, even if no one ever reads it. Travel to the place you always wanted to travel to.
Or, maybe, like Gail is learning to do, simply slow down. Take one or two things off your plate, like she recently did. Let go of some of the meaningless busy-ness. If Gail can learn to slow down, anyone—even you—can.
I attended a funeral this week for a beloved patient. She left a legacy that reached beyond what most of us realized. She lived and loved, and left a model for living life to its fullest. Funerals are a time of sadness, but also a catalyst to keep moving forward to honor the memory of the one we loved and lost. They would want it that way.
We weren’t ready to let her go, but we don’t get to choose when. And the when for all of us is only a matter of time.
I struggle to fully grasp that it’s been eleven years since our parents died. Four or five, maybe…six tops. But eleven? Why has the time gone so fast, and where did it go?
A wise woman once told me this: The reason time goes faster with age is because when you are ten, time goes ten miles per hour. When you are twenty, it moves along faster at twenty miles per hour. At fifty…at sixty five—you get the idea. It only moves faster. No matter what your age, I don’t think you will disagree.
Age is a gift, just as I wrote several weeks ago. The corollary, then, is that time is a gift as well. Use it to do the things to make your life as full as it can be, and to celebrate the relationships you have with other people.
Enjoy the Monday mornings, the Thursday evenings, even the hour in the grocery store at the end of the workday on Tuesday.
I need to take this one to heart more than most people—more than Gail and Suzanne, anyway: enjoy the cold, the snow and the wind. Enjoy the gray, slushy melting snow two days later. Enjoy the cloudy days—even long series of gray, cloudy days on end that we seem to have had multiple times this winter.
It’s much easier to enjoy the fun times, the getaways, the days off; the vacation. Which is exactly what Gail and I will be doing in several days. With Suzanne’s blessing, but without her, we are heading west once again to our favorite Rocky Mountain town. It is our original celebration destination; we started going there nine years ago to celebrate our parents lives, and ours as well.
And we continue to do just that. Their legacy lives on in so many ways through their seven children, and we have chosen to celebrate and enjoy our lives, thanks to the love they gave us throughout their lives.
Life is too short to not have fun. So, whatever fun looks like for you, get out there and have it. Or stay home and have it. Find what works for you, and give yourself the gift of time to do it. Let some time-sucking obligations go if you need to; Gail paved the way for you to do the same.
And tomorrow, as my siblings and I March Forth, we have but one favor to ask of you: If they are still here, let your parents know how much you love them. Show them if you can. And next time you get to see them, be sure to take a picture.
Gail and I will have a partial report of the fun we had on our trip when I write again in several weeks. We never tell all.