My Mum-in-law would have turned 80 yesterday. There would have been a huge party, too. Sadly, she died nearly 4 years ago.
It sounds like a long time, but it doesn’t feel that way. Her influence continues. I saw it in the emails that passed back and forth among Alan’s siblings as they planned this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. As we remembered her yesterday. As little things bring the memories to mind.
This is what happens whenever we lose someone we love. There is the terrible grief. And then the bleakness. And then, bit by bit, we start to realize that, while they may be gone, our relationship with them continues. I am still learning so much from my parents, long after their deaths. As I grow and change and remember them, I pick up on more that they were trying to teach me, things I may not have been ready for back then.
When people live on in our memories, the non-essentials, the things that may have gotten in the way while they were still alive, fall away and what you eventually realize is that all that matters is the love. Not your differences. Not who was right or who was wrong. Not who won.
What it comes down to is that there were these people and you loved them.
And eventually your tears dry and you can see more clearly that all around you there are these people and you love them, too, and if you’re really lucky, you learn not to waste the opportunities to tell them that, to show them how much they mean to you. Because those opportunities are precious. And fleeting.