Nurses and doctors talked to us, but no one said the words. Even euphemistically.
We were all confused, even when we were taken into the room where she was.
I couldn’t feel my legs as a priest anointed her body, but the palpable feeling of the pain that radiated from my wife and her dad and her brother is the worst sensation I have ever felt.
Five years ago today, my mother-in-law died in a routine surgery. The pain from her loss and the way she left us still radiates and is really a part of our existence now.
I’m just going to say it— Pam could be a real pain in the ass. No one who knew her or loved her could deny that.
In so many different ways, life had broken her spirit and her mind and her body.
From that brokenness, came someone who could be difficult. But also from that place came the purest, most complete love. From that same place came someone who cared deeply about those who either didn’t have anyone to care about them… or someone who needed a little extra. And trying to make people laugh… even at her own expense.
All her emotions and feelings were always 100%. If it was bitterness or anger, watch out— but it was worth hanging through that for the uncompromised love and support and goodness and LAUGHTER that so often poured from her unbridled.
It’s easy— comfortable, even— to dwell on that terrible day, and to feel anger and sadness over what happened and the way it was handled and the loss it created in our lives.
Instead, though, I want to remember the woman who spent the whole time I knew her, fighting through what life had dealt her and trying her best to create the world she wished she lived in for the people around her.
By Steve Cichon | firstname.lastname@example.org | @stevebuffalo
Intellectually, I know there is no time or space in heaven, so today is just a glorious, random day in an eternity of glorious random days.
I further know in heaven, we have no need for our earthly contrivances, because in spirit we are perfection.
Intellectually, I know these things. It doesn’t mean I can truly comprehend what they really mean.
My dad went to his eternal reward five years ago today. It’s a wonderful blessing to firmly believe that our loved ones die from this life into a more beautiful forever.
In our perfectly human struggle to understand and explore what we can’t grasp, we often try to define the undefinable with comparisons to other undefinable things we’ve thought about a little bit more.
In 2006, Americans sent nearly 38 billion plastic water bottles to landfills. If laid end to end, that’s enough bottles to travel from the Earth to the Moon and back 10 times.
For some reason, an inconceivable number like 38 billion is easier to comprehend when we say it could make 10 round trips to the moon. This is silly, since most of us don’t really have a firm concept of how far away the moon is, besides really, really far away (which is where I would imagine 38,000,000,000 stacked water bottles would take me anyway.)
Sometimes it’s helpful for me– and any of us, I imagine– to picture our loved ones in perfection in heaven. Since we can’t understand perfection, we put it in earthly terms that we know aren’t even close to how things really are up there.
So my ol’man is in heaven. Five years today. He was recently joined by my mom-in-law there. I smile that they are there, and that they are there together.
These two were a lot alike in their earthly lives, but one way sort of flashed at me this morning. They both loved cigarettes. In fact, they both smoked Parliament, until after years of being badgered by medical professionals and family, they both gave up the habit. But neither ever stopped thinking about– or talking about– smoking and the pleasure it brought them. It’s an eerily similar story for both.
I know if either one had been able to create their own version of heaven, it would have included a cigarette vending machine in the corner and an endless supply of quarters. It also would have a kitchen table with ashtrays, mugs of coffee, and swirling smoke.
I know heaven brings them the joy of smoking without even thinking of a puff, but some how for me, picturing them happy is easier with a butt in hand– like stacking bottles to the moon.
So today, I imagine Dad and Mom-in-law sitting at that heavenly kitchen table. They are talking and smiling, sharing a pack of Parliaments, and enjoying their heavenly life to the fullest, looking down upon all of us who love and miss them, their hearts full with the knowledge that we will all be together someday.
For us here, talking about how much you miss someone who is a piece of you is trying to put into words the indefinable. Dad’s been gone for five years, Pam for 16 days.
The yearning and sadness feels like the like the moon and back in both cases, but at the same time, the everlasting love from each is always as close as my heart.
My Ol’man and Me: My dad died at age 58. I’ve really become accustomed to dealing with grief by writing about the people and things I love, and what it is and why it is that I love them. Written in the weeks following my dad’s death on Palm Sunday, 2010. The story of his last week alive, and a reflection of our relationship and time together. Read it here, and download it as a free e-book.