According to a history that both excludes and includes me, there’s a 1789 quote in a letter by Benjamin Franklin which reads: “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Well. I’m not super political, but we know that our constitution is seeing some challenges and one can question its permanency. Having made one year back in the states, I recently met with my US accountant and got all my taxes squared away with certainy.
And on to death. Today marks the one year anniversary of me boarding a plane and returning to the US from having lived in Prague for three years. I sat on that plane (well, two planes) with the awful knowledge that also on that day, July 11, my father lost is wife in a very sudden and unexpected death.
In college, I read Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ On Death and Dying. I don’t remember all of it, but knowing that I read it stuck with me. I feel like I should read it again because death is one of those things that keeps popping up lately. Facebook is largely to blame. Life is the other.
On July 5th we received the news that my boyfriend’s cousin had taken her life. If you’ve been following along with me, she is the one who I drove with from Sundance to Sedona for our spiritual awakening. Her father had recently passed from an illness which came quickly and which she fought against. Her sadness was beyond palpable. It was taking over.
She was essentially a stranger to me before we both hopped into the car together and by the time we left Sedona the next day, she was a friend.
Death IS really hard to understand. Whether it comes from nowhere, or sends an announcement in advance (not nearly as fun as those DIY’s we receive of weddings and baby’s to come) or is beckoned at the will of someone’s own hand, the result is the same. Permanency. Then, for those left behind, confusion, sadness, anger…all of those things Kübler-Ross tells us.
Being who I am, I really, really try to find the good in things. I try to think how these deaths have something good in them. It’s hard. What I find is that I can only go to the quotes and then the cliches like, “Let’s celebrate their lives.”
That’s great, we should. I do.
My hardest loss thus far happened in my 20s when my grandma died. Her death is “easy” to celebrate; she died on the 4th of July. I thank her for this gift with each firework that explodes with life on that day.
All this celebrating gets hard when you want to talk to that person again, hear their voice, hug them. But, we’re still here and we have to carry on. Be strong. That’s what we’re supposed to do, right? So, let’s try:
If you could today, please take a moment to celebrate the beauty that these two women left behind as it is a testament to who they were that we continue to feel for them now that they are gone. Wishing peace to all those who loved and knew Jennifer Snyder Bryceland and Belinda Sanders. Thank you.
PS, IF you are feeling like there’s nothing left, and you’re alone or everything sucks and no one cares and you can’t see past the heavy darkness that covers your eyes, know that there is more. I’ve felt this way myself and what kept me going was knowing that I wouldn’t want my family or friends to feel sadness, anger, confusion…all those things that are left behind…if I were gone. Permanently. There’s always someone you can talk to, I promise.