Is This The Day You Die?

On my way home from work yesterday this thought went through my mind. Driving along, looking up at the blue sky, watching the soft white clouds bounce on by.

“Is today going to be the day you leave this Earth?

Rarely do I allow myself to ruminate or stew in the past anymore. I have done the recovery work and am, daily, working to forgive for myself and release anger and pain. It’s been a long learning process but I think I have found multiple ways to distract or refocus myself to thoughts, projects and people more deserving of my attention. It has worked well the past 3-4 years and I have grown to rely on my new-found skill but today I added, “I hope you made peace with your maker and confessed the true ugliness committed at your hands.”

Let me get you up to speed here. I am, essentially, an orphan. I have no family to speak of even though there are at least, maybe, 30 people out there that share some DNA with me. That I know of anyway. I could be wrong about the exact count because my family of origin LIES a lot. I arrive at my number by counting parents, siblings, their kids, their kid’s children and the few cousins I know about. I have physical contact with none of these people and that isn’t because of the corona virus, it’s because of purposeful cruelty and generational dysfunction. I have limited verbal contact with just 3 of these people so, in my mind, that qualifies me as an unofficial orphan.

Cue the balloons and streamers!!! Now, where is my crown?

Back to the initial, depressing title of this already worn out tome. It really is tiresome when the past won’t stay where it belongs so when you find out a family member is currently in the hospital, a member who doesn’t deserve your kindness, all kinds of surprising conclusions are drawn. Do I still care? How should I feel about this information? How do I react when asked about this family member? Will anyone who isn’t related to me even ask about this family member anyway since this person isn’t well-liked in their community? Anyone who truly knows me is aware of why I feel the way I do about this family member. And, those who don’t? Well, let them ask and they too will learn the truth.

I have no desire to edit anything or soften the jagged perimeter of this family plot turned garbage dump so my truth will be imparted without hesitation. “Is this the day they died?” Honestly, it could happen this way. Someone unrelated to me could be the one to inform me of the passing of a person I came to terms with years ago. A person I reserve no conflicted feelings for and have no desire to pretend grieve once they pass from this world. I wish them a smooth passage, which is more than they would wish for me and, once that has been accomplished, I wish to think of them no more.

If this is the day that you die please know that I am still standing. I am not bowing to the wind of judgement because none is blowing my way. That storm is reserved for you so be ready. Make amends, if you can and if you can’t bring yourself to do this before your last breath then that’s okay. I’ve done my part and let you go a long time ago.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The lessons learned after the loss of a loved one…

Loss.

It never gets easier.

Over the past year, I have lost family members to grudges, jealousy, and plain old meanness. This past week though, I lost the only father figure I had in my life to the ravages of old age; the kind of fight that beats both the body and mind to ragged pieces and leaves family members emotionally shattered. This particular beat-down lasted 3 years and while we begged him to “hang on” the reality was that we totally missed the mark on understanding what he really wanted.

He wanted to be free.

Free from pain, free from the depression associated with loss of mobility, loss of meaningful purpose and loss of the life he once led. I get that now. I get that he wasn’t purposely trying to hurt us by checking out months before he actually died. He just wanted to be out of pain, both physically and mentally and the only relief available was to be found in the finality of death. We didn’t want to see the simplicity in this and chose to make it about our own needs.

For those left behind the lingering regrets will gnaw at our own minds as grief is want to do and, if left unchecked, those regrets will start the insidious erosion process on our bodies as well. The goal now is to stop the cycle and choose how we approach this new chapter in our lives; live with regrets or LIVE.

I want to live. I want to make my dad of 8 years proud of me. Proud in a way my biological father would never have the capacity to understand. To say that I didn’t send a grief-stricken plea out to the universe with a note attached that said, “I needed you to be my dad a little longer” would be a lie because I did. I had to voice that truth and then promise to do better going forward.

I will do that for this dear man who I grew to love and respect. Whose stories about the exciting life he led were always a highlight of every visit and whose quick wit was always several steps ahead of mine and so awe-inspiring. I wanted to hear more stories because they connected me further to him and also made me realize that we had a lot in common. But, since that’s no longer possible it becomes my duty to pass what I know of him on and to live my best life for this amazingly witty man who literally impacted the lives of so many doing what he did the best which was teaching.

We learn from loss if we choose to listen to the stories it tells. Choose to listen.

© 2018 L.A. Askew
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.