I was reminded again this week of the fact that life passes away. We lost an old friend of ours and at the Divine Liturgy last night, we all prayed for the repose of his soul. And I found myself weeping…just weeping over the loss of a friend, yes, but the loss for his wife and children, and grandchildren. They will never have him again in their life. And it overwhelmed me.
Earlier in the day I was working on arranging for my mom to come and visit us. It is a 5-hour plane ride (non-stop, thank goodness) and I have to plan far in advance, to be sure all the arrangements are made, because my mom has Alzheimer’s and Dementia. She gets confused very easily, and being in an airport will overwhelm her. My step-sister, who has become my friend over the past few years, lives very near my mom and does so much for her. We were discussing how odd it is to make the same sort of arrangements for her, that we make for an unescorted minor flying across the country. I will be doing the same thing very soon for my 15-year-old son, who will be attending summer camp on the east coast. Every detail has to be looked at and gone over. It is frightening, actually, to have my mom (and soon my son) flying pretty far, all alone. But she needs to see her great-grandchildren, her grandchildren, and her children. We are family and we need to stay connected. With Alzheimer’s and Dementia, time becomes the important factor in all of this, because one day soon she will not know any of us. Another one of those life-cycles exerting itself.
Yesterday was also the first birthday of my oldest granddaughter. What a joy she is in our lives. And she was so very happy with her little cupcake yesterday – as she was wearing a goodly portion of it!! The joy on her face was enough to bring tears to your eyes. I thank all the brainiacs out there who invented video and Face Time and Skype; it makes us feel so close to each other and not the 1000s of miles apart that we really are. Knowing that I will be seeing her, and her soon-to-be-born little sister, made it all the more poignant. Today, I was on the phone with my sister-in-law who shared she is expecting baby #10 in October, and I was just marveling at the gift of life all around me. My friend who recently died was the father of 14 children, and grandfather to something like 5 or 7 children (I have actually lost count!).
Life is just such a blessing. And it is a cycle. Old and new. Comings and goings. Cycling, always cycling through. All the tripe sayings they have out there are somehow showing themselves to all have a grain of truth in them. Dontcha hate that? Ha-Ha. “To everything there is a season,” as it says in the book of Ecclesiastes. And as I age and head closer and closer towards my final destination, I am finding that there are, indeed, seasons.
My friend who passed was from the season in our lives when we were all having babies. We were homeschooling our kids; we attended Church together; we shared parenting and marriage, financial and other woes with each other. We supported one another through those rough phases all young marrieds go through, in addition to some wonderful bottles of wine and steaks cooked to perfection. I have such clear memories of summer days spent under the stars, contemplating our lives. Wonderful memories filled with so much laughter.
My grandma used to tell me, “Well, you can’t put old heads on young shoulders.” I used to laugh at her many adages, and trust me, she had volumes and volumes of them! But she was right. There are things I can see from where I am standing, that I cannot really communicate to my children’s generation. Many times it is because they just don’t want to hear it from me, but mostly it is because they know what they are doing for them is right (haven’t we all been there??). And I acknowledge that and I respect that, very much. It was not often afforded to my husband and myself and so I want to be sure my kids know I respect their choices; I just wish I could give them some of my wisdom. But I also know the deepest wisdom is gained through living life, not being given some adages to ponder. We have to live for those tripe sayings to mean something. As St. Seraphim said above, we are given choices. We can choose to be of this world and outside of God, or we can choose for Whom our heart hungers, which is God, the God of life. Everything eventually passes away.
I saw a funny meme today about books:
It is one of my guilty pleasures – I would rather be reading than pretty much anything else. (Especially if I can drink a nice glass of wine or nibble on something chocolate at the same time! Heaven!). I often think that for me, loosing my sight would be the most horrible thing. Because of missing the faces of my loved ones, yes, but I would no longer be able to lose myself in a book. And what we read, what we contemplate, becomes a portion of who we are. I love paranormal books and stories of good versus evil. Love all the witches and spells, potions and demons and the heroes that defeat them. Always makes me feel good. I have often mused why I love this genre so much, when I was always reading historical novels in my younger years. And I realized that for me, it is my way of getting in the fight. It is my way of confronting the evil in the world, and always choosing to be a “good guy.” Why is that? Because I know, deep in my bones, that this world does truly pass away and only God remains….everything passes away.
Some day, all that will be left of me will be a pile of bones in a grave, and the legacy of genetics and memories I leave for my family. I pray that their lives will have been better because I was a part of them. I pray that everyone I touched was left with a positive feeling in their hearts when they think of me. I know there are those who I hurt in my wild and rambunctious days. I cannot go back and undo what I have already done.
And this saying keeps me focused on what is ahead. This cycle of life we are living keeps moving. We choose to participate or sit it out. What a waste to spend life angry, sitting on the sidelines pouting. Or mourning those who have gone before us, while missing the blessings of new life in front of us. Perhaps it is because I am older and life is a little quieter, but I am seeing God’s hand in so many more things than I ever have before. I know He is present and active in my life and the lives around me. And when I start seeing these things over and over again, I feel so blessed. To know something so clearly is so peaceful, and it brings such contentedness. I may not control it all; I may need to still buckle up and gird my loins – all of that may still hold true. But I also know that “God’s got this.” How totally cool is that??
Blessings to all my fellow miracles out there, who touch the miracle of life each day, by living and choosing life through the Grace of God. And my continued to prayers for those who perhaps are not as certain of God’s presence in your life, or the love He has for you – I’m becoming certain enough for both of us.