Posts tagged ‘loss’

January 15, 2016

The bright side of endings

Thought of the moment, courtesy of Marilyn Monroe:

Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

This is a perspective on change and endings that we often don’t think about. The end of something “good” really might be the start of something so much better.

❤

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November 30, 2013

Book Recommendation – “Finding Jim” by Susan Oakey-Baker

On April 30, 1999, Susan Oakey-Baker lost her mountaineer husband, Jim Haberl, to an avalanche on Mount Ultima Thule, Alaska. Finding Jim is Oakey-Baker’s incredibly candid story of her journey through the grief that followed. Oakey-Baker hides nothing about the intensity of her struggles to make sense of the tragedy and “do well” in the aftermath. Her writing is honest, unapologetic and deeply poignant, the emotions sometimes so raw and present that they seem to well up from within your own body. If you have ever “lost” a loved one (in any sense of the word), this book will speak to aspects of your experience. Oakey-Baker has bravely put herself “out there” in a way most people don’t, and the result is an intensely beautiful testament to both the messy complexity of human feeling, and the resilience within each of us to finally accept and move on.

Cover image of the book "Finding Jim" by Susan Oakey-Baker

“Finding Jim” by Susan Oakey-Baker

September 10, 2013

Make mud pies with the people you love while you still can

Have you told your loved ones that you care lately? Have you hugged your mother, your brother, your father, your partner, your kids? We sometimes forget that the time we have with the loved ones in our lives is a precious gift, a limited-time arrangement only, and that the days, hours, minutes and seconds could elapse suddenly, much sooner than we think.

Writer Stephen Hume’s essay “The Gift” really hits this idea at heart. In the essay, Hume describes how he nearly lost his three-year-old daughter to a drowning incident on the beach near their home in coastal British Columbia. She was playing by the water; he looked away for a moment to talk to a friend. Had he not turned back around when he did — and seen his daughter’s tiny hand extend up from a swirl in the ocean — he would have lost her. Later that night, as the intensity of the experience sank in, Hume remembered how only a few days earlier he had gotten angry with his daughter because she had swamped her gumboots in a puddle and stuffed “mud pies” in her jacket pocket.

Writes Hume:

We spend so much of our lives on cruise control, sweeping along in the comfortable bubble of our assumptions. . . . We assume we’ll see our friends again, that wives and husbands and kids will come home as they always do. And so we indulge ourselves in the petty tyrannies of parenthood and marriage, the nagging and squabbling over trivia, the evaded visits, the family bickering and the occasional grumpiness that comes of relationships we take for granted. . . .

We can’t — and shouldn’t — live our lives in constant fear of the worst that can happen. But we should switch off the cruise control and live each day as though the ones we most love will not be with us for another.

So hug a loved one today. Call a family member and say that you care. Or kneel in the yard and make mud pies with your daughter. You never know, says Hume, when the bridge between you and that person will be replaced by an abyss.

(Stephen Hume’s essay “The Gift” appears in his 2010 anthology A Walk with the Rainy Sisters: In Praise of British Columbia’s Places.)

August 2, 2013

Instructions for life (#1): Do the things you love NOW

Do the things you love now, because you never know when the possibility or the ability to do those things will be taken away from you. As improbable or impossible as it may seem to you in this moment, you could very well wake up tomorrow and find yourself unable to write, sing, run, speak, walk, swim, go outside, dance, see, hold your children, or what have you. Do the things you love now, while you have the ability to do them. Don’t waste this time, for it is a time-limited gift, and it will not be available to you forever.

Prioritize the things you love above all else. There is little point in frittering away the time that you do have on lesser activities or pursuits. Do only the things that give you true joy, do them often, and do them whole-heartedly. Do not feel guilty about this. This is your life, after all, and the best way to spend it is in doing the things that make you feel the most happy.

Remember that even if you are forced to give up some crucial part of your life because of circumstances beyond your control, you will survive the loss. You will. There are other parts of yourself, as yet explored, waiting to be shown the light. The old parts of you will live on in fond memory, and the new parts will carry you forward into the future.

There are many chapters in your book of life. Not all chapters will be easy or fun to read, but all chapters will be meaningful. Live each chapter fully, while it is before you, because eventually — perhaps at a moment you least expect or desire — that chapter will close for good, leaving you with an entirely different set of words and sentences from which to compose your path and craft your identity.

April 29, 2013

Heartbreak – a journey (in three quotes)

Heartbreak: a journey (in three quotes):

The breaking of so great a thing
should make a greater crack.
(William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra)

She took a step and didn’t want to take any more,
but she did.
(Markus Zusak, The Book Thief)

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.
(Mary Oliver)

December 4, 2012

Love the ones you’ve got, while you’ve got them

I like this quote from Canadian poet Lorna Crozier’s memoir, Small Beneath the Sky, because it captures the essence of the ties that bind a family — that hodgepodge of collective memory that only we, our parents and our siblings can access — as well as the very fragility of those ties.  One day, the people who helped colour the memories of your upbringing will no longer be present to share those memories with you — to laugh and cry with you over events gone by; to remind you of moments or details you had forgotten; to understand, implicitly, completely and without question, the myriad currents flowing beneath it all, holding it all together.

Near the end of her book, Crozier writes about the decline and death of her mother, Peggy, with whom she was close.  In the moments before Peggy enters surgery, she refers to her daughter, then fifty, as “still my little girl, my skinny little girl who I couldn’t get to eat.”  For Crozier, those words trigger an instant flash of memory — and a sudden sense of impending loss:

People would stop [Mom] on the street and ask why I was so big-eyed and thin.  What was she feeding me?  The truth was I’d eat almost nothing but bacon.  Outside the porch on a wooden chair she’d leave pieces for me to snatch as I flew by like some wild child, not wanting to come in from playing.  Who else could tell me that?  Who but my mother held those small pieces of my childhood?  Where would they go when she was gone?