Looking Back, Looking Forward

Me and my friend Becky in Bar Harbor, Maine, 1998.

The last year has been quite a time of change and loss for me. Last June my mother died. Two of my very close, dear friends died of cancer related illnesses, one in March and one in May of this year. In June we lost our beloved greyhound, Phoebe, to a traumatic injury as a result of cancer. And yesterday my one-time mother-in-law, and always mother, left this earth.

For a while I was feeling very mortal, not to mention old. I dare say I was somewhat depressed. This seems understandable considering the losses I have had to bear. Now I am reaching the point of being retrospective. I would not want any of my loved ones to continue to suffer their worldly pains and infirmities. Ok, maybe a selfish part of me wants that so I could still have them with me. But the other part of me knows that it is selfish and too much to ask. Sometimes love is letting go. At least for me.

And so it is time to reframe my outlook on life. It is time for the last pictures of me and them, taken during their end days, to come down and be replaced with pictures of us in the good times. Pictures of us living our lives and embodying the joy we shared. Pictures that embrace life! My friends and family were not their illnesses. I will honor them by remembering the love.

Family-my brother, me, and my then mother-in-law at Stan Hywett in 1998

The memories and love are but one part of the experience though. The rest is what I choose to do now. My loved ones are gone. I am not. It is still my time on this earth. Time to live by one of my favorite quotes, the author is unknown to me.

“I shall pass this way but once. Therefore, any good that I can do… or any kindness that I can show-let me do it now for I shall not pass this way again.”

It is my time to show perseverance, caring, helpfulness, occasional goofiness, and undying love. I shall take the parts that they have left me and use them to help pave the way for the rest of my life. The life that is still to come. They will go with me and continue to make a difference in the world. We are but a sum of our experiences and what we choose to do with them. And my friends, I choose to go on joyfully living, taking the bits of each I have known who have gone before me, with me. Onward!