Celebrating the Ghosts that Haunt Us

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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.

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6 Responses to Celebrating the Ghosts that Haunt Us

  1. sandy says:

    so true.

  2. Barb McMahon says:

    You know it, Sandy…

  3. Macy says:

    It’s forgetting the small stuff I worry about. The details that made them individual.
    But like you say, we do keep something of them.

    (Second attempt to post here by the way, I think WordPress has identified me as a Blogger outsider…)

  4. Barb says:

    I’m glad you tried again! (actually comments have been a bit quiet lately – I wonder if others are having problems, too.)

    As the years go by, I find it’s the the little details I remember best. I can still feel my Dad’s back under my hand one of the last times I hugged him (he was in hospital, wearing one of those gowns), my sister’s hair tickling my cheek when I hugged her. The way my Mum would get her words all mixed up and then burst out laughing – and I mean the exact angle of her head and the way her smile looked.

    As the grief subsides, the memories clarify. I find, anyway.

  5. Patti says:

    Hey Barb,

    I have to disagree with only one thing here – the tears never dry. I read this post and cried again like a baby. I lost my Mom six years ago and sometimes the emptiness I feel comes back so strongly, especially when someone else shares their grief.

    That said, the joy and laughter comes back stronger than ever, for the reasons you mentioned. Somehow after death the love becomes purer, simpler.

    Thanks for this incredible tribute to your loved ones. It touched my heart.

  6. Barb says:

    Thank you Patti. I’m sorry about your tears. Mine come back on a regular basis, too….

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