I took this photo on the balcony of a cruise ship bound for Bermuda. That trip was not only our first cruise (courtesy of a travel writing gig) but the only time since our honeymoon we actually had an entire week away together. As I sat outside our room, in the wee hours of the morning, I remember feeling completely at peace, awash in the serenity that a magical sunrise over a eternal ocean can bring. It was a moment of bliss that would come back to my mind many times after my world was split in half less than two years later.
I’ve never asked ‘why me’ about anything. Maybe I believe in karma, the capriciousness of the universe or just, hey, that who am I in this galaxy’s scheme of things? With all the horrendous things that happen every day in this world, how could I possibly think I was singled out for anything? Like it or not, stuff happens in this life without our permission.
When I was 26, my younger brother died suddenly of leukemia. He was 3 weeks shy of 20 years old and even his doctors were shocked. His death brought an unexpected tsunami of pain and disbelief that rocked my and my siblings world. It nearly destroyed my parents.
Since my kids were small I told them, ad nauseam, that life can end in a heartbeat – or lack of one. I told them never to put off phone calls, or ignor people who love you. After all, in the end, love is what matters. Yes, my kids have been cursed with THAT mom. I put ‘love notes’ in their lunches and knapsacks and still never see or talk to them without saying ‘I love you’. My poor grands have lip imprints tattooed on their cheeks, from smooshing their faces. But one thing is sure. Unlike me, they will NEVER doubt if they were loved. They will never have to wonder how I felt about them.
I thought losing my young brother was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Then during a long 6 months I watched my mother die a miserable, painful death and I thought that was the worst thing. But the universe always has more in store, doesn’t it? So, with no warning or recourse, one year ago I came home one night to find my husband dead.
Life sure can screw with you — big-time.
We are all only lent to this planet. We all have an expiration date invisibly stamped on us. All we can do is try to connect to the people who have been gifted to us, WHILE they are gifted to us, in the best way we can.
I’m sure there is much I forget or wish I had done. Don’t we all? I just pray that showing those I love – kids, grands, family and friends – how I feel about them isn’t one of them. But just in case, I’ll take this advice myself as well. So when you see me post about how my heart is broken, know that it’s not to be maudlin (my husband would HATE that).
It’s just another way to of saying ‘I love you’.