My mother-in-law, my friend, died two days ago. Suitable words are not coming to me at the moment but as I begin writing and thinking of what I might say today, it is striking me now that she, among many greater things, was one of the biggest fans of this blog.
I recall a past blog post, Awakening to Your Dying, that elicited a profound response from her. The final two sentences of the post were these questions: "Are you living or are you dying? Are you living the day or merely surviving it?"
In her response to me, she simply wrote, "I'm livin' it honey!"
I can't help but smile as I imagine her saying that in her wonderfully unique accent, which was equal parts Maryland and South Carolina.
Her final year was often physically difficult for her and not always filled with optimism but she still managed to find the will and means to fulfill her most meaningful and rewarding activities, such as shopping at thrift stores to buy trinkets for her grandkids or to care for her ailing cats.
In reflection of her life, my thoughts remain flooded with memories of her, combined with the love, support and concern I am feeling for my wife, kids and extended family. Therefore, I thought it appropriate to share some quotes that I imagine she might say at this moment, if she were able to send us a few lessons she learned before, during and after her passing:
To live in this world you must be able to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.
~ Mary Oliver, 'In Blackwater Woods'
To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable. ~ Erich Fromm
Stop acting as if you have 1,000 years to live. ~ Marcus Aurelius
Sometimes even to live is an act of courage. ~ Seneca
Fear is static that prevents me from hearing myself. ~ Samuel Butler
My life has been full of terrible misfortunes -- most of which have never happened. ~ Michel de Montaigne
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety. ~ Aesop
The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~ Erma Bombeck
I have nothing more to add, except to simply say, "Peace, love and thanks always..."
Sadly, my cat Sunny passed away just a few hours after I wrote this post. Rest in peace, little one...
We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. ~ Irving Townsend