By May 7, 2012

The Lesson

Some lessons cannot be taught. They cannot be passed down from one to the next, no matter how well-structured, well-meaning, or well-presented. Trying to express an elusive life lesson is like trying to describe the color blue to a blind person.

The unexpected death of someone we love is an experience you have to go through to understand. And then, it’s at an incredible cost.

My sister passed away thirteen years ago today. I remember my mother’s voice on the phone as clearly as the day it happened. The panic. My disbelief. How could this happen? I had so much left to say.

I learned The Lesson that day: you can’t take anyone or anything for granted. I’ve spent every waking moment trying to correct the only regret in my life: make sure you tell everyone you care about just how much they mean to you.

A lot of my friends have lost loved ones this year. I guess I’m entering the stage of my life where all sorts of things are coming together. We’re old enough that some of our parents are passing on; some of us lose children, and those of us who are much younger than our siblings are starting to lose them, too. Family pets and people we idolized growing up are dying.

I hate to have this much company, but now more and more of my friends are learning The Lesson.

I see them. It’s like someone walking through a fog, joining me in a small clearing under a gray sky. I see them dealing with their emotions, each in a slightly different way. Sometimes loudly and publicly. Sometimes silently and privately.

No one way is ever right. No one way ever makes it go away.

We deal with it in different ways, but the result is the same: we’re together now, and we’ve learned The Lesson.

I have determined a meaning of life, thirteen years after stepping through my own fog.

We are meant to comfort each other after the loss of someone we love. It’s a natural reaction, and most people understand it and use their personal experience to help the next person cope.

I believe the meaning of life is to not only comfort people in loss, but to make sure that never let another person slip through your fingers without knowing how you feel.

Tell your mother you love her today. Think of a random number, go through your Facebook friends, and tell that person one thing about them that you cherish. If you enjoy working with someone, tell them. Thank your friends for being in your life.

Do it today, and then tomorrow, and every damn day that you pass through the rest of your life.

The Lesson is not waiting until something happens to celebrate someone’s life, or tell them how much you love them. You have to do it now. Today. Before they’re gone, or you’re gone, and you lose that chance.

Yesterday I spent a wonderful day surrounded by the woman I love and friends that I hold close to my heart. They brought food, we had a wonderful dinner, and we laughed as we played games. They didn’t know it, but they were helping my annual celebration of my sister’s life. They didn’t know it, but they were helping me fill this giant hole in my heart from missing her.

But one thing they all knew, whether they’ve told each other individually or not, was The Lesson.

And maybe that’s why it felt so special to me.

Hug someone today, and tell them you love them.

I miss you Sue, every day.

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1 Comment on "The Lesson"

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  1. Amy says:

    Thank you for sharing your grief and love. When my dad died suddenly when I was 22, the shock and grief knocked me over. But yes, a lesson about loving…