By Deborah Marini ~
July 4th my dad was at his home in the mountains. He was supervising the pig roast and sitting with his kindle by the fire pit, enjoying the company of multiple families joined together.
July 20th my dad was in Asbury Park celebrating our daughter’s engagement. He was smiling and just taking it all in surrounded by family and friends of our daughter and her fiancé.
July 21st my dad headed back up to the mountains and toured the wineries in NY with his closest friends.
On July 26th he greeted my husband and me as we continued the 2nd annual mountain trip with our son and 30 friends. He watched them swim, kayak and canoe in the lake and shared stories of how the cabin came to be his favorite place in the world.
July 30th he fell.
August 6th he passed away.
Just writing this brings it all to the surface.
There were phone calls, ups, and downs then more phone calls. There were flowers, cards, a viewing, a mass, a burial, a luncheon …then … silence.
My first day home after almost two weeks from the call that he fell was quiet. It was lonely. It was sad and I slowly realized…
That was ok.
It was and is all part of grieving. Being sad is ok. Feeling sad is ok. Our first instinct is wanting to feel better. People want us to feel better. But as the priest said in the Homily, “Grieving is good because it means you loved…. and to love means we live.” To hurt inside is so difficult, but if we simply look at the “why” we are grieving it means that we had something awesome in our lives for however long that lasted. When we hurt or when we lose someone it’s so easy to make the resolve to never go down that road again. To never hurt again. To never love again. To never feel again. But if we do that we essentially stop living.
By allowing ourselves to just keep being open, we also allow ourselves to stay in the land of the living. When we open our eyes to the joyful part of grieving, we notice the beautiful people that surrounded us in our grief.
I see the lake he loved as something that will continue to bring so much joy to all. I hear the stories about how my dad touched so many people. I see the joy he brought to so many and how he grabbed life right up until the end. I want that. I want to know I’ve left a mark and if I stop loving now because of my own pain then my mark fades. How is that fair to anyone?
How do we keep that focus?
I have always said that I see life the same way a runner sees a marathon. They prepare their bodies to be in the best possible shape for the journey. They muscle through the pain as they train to build endurance. As they cross the finish line they are celebrated for their victory. They’ve accomplished what they set out to do.
Its the same in life.
We strive to be good people with good souls. We train our souls to make sure they reflect what it means to be a good person. We love and show endurance when our hearts are broken. We feel pain but we muscle through it. Our faith is our training regiment. Our hope and belief that if we live a good life our finish line is heaven.
My dad trained harder than anyone I’ve ever known (other than my mom!)to show us how to live our lives as good people. He loved deeply. Especially his family. His heart was broken when he would watch us in our “rebel” phase but he continued to love. He knew the value of training his soul. He practiced grace and forgiveness. He prayed. He stood up for injustices and knew the value of helping those less fortunate. He trained for his marathon life and as he crossed the finish line that is to be celebrated. He loved.
Because of that, we grieve by celebrating their life and the fact that we knew them. By remembering the contributions they made and mostly by continuing to love… and live… that’s the best way to honor them in our grief.
So, keeping this in mind – how do I grieve?
I cry. I wrap myself in a blanket meant only for those times he comes into my thoughts and just let the feelings swarm around me. I feel. I don’t run. I remember that I have a tribe. When I need to, I pull from the memories and make calls to lean on the friends that know this pain. I also remember that even in those moments alone, I’m not alone. I take the time by myself when I need it and in those times I rely on my own strength when I feel exhausted. Yes, there is safety in numbers, but there’s also solace found in being alone sometimes. Know which one you need and when then follow your own path. Grieving isn’t rushed. It doesn’t have to RSVP by a certain date. It doesn’t go away as you return to life. It just simply changes.
We grieve because we lost. We lost because we loved. We loved because we lived.
And to live and love….. is awesome.
(Photo taken July 28th, 2019 as we pulled away from the cabin)