Just like waves come and go, and rivers ebb and flow, my emotions have been up and down the past few weeks. Today feels like they are on the upswing. I’m very grateful for it too. The sun is shining, and a little spark of hope is growing into a bright flame. I’m deciding I won’t let my joy be taken from me by this nagging, draining process of grief. I can stir up the courage to climb out of that “pit of despair” that’s been trying to drag me down into depression. Making those baby steps on a defined uphill climb, taking little by little and celebrating each progressive move toward healing.
This is the essence of faith and hope. Not knowing where the end destination is from the beginning, but trusting that the current direction is the right one. Forward. Onward. Upward. Trudging and plodding, building the strength to eventually increase the speed back to a saunter, then a brisker pace, maybe a trot, and finally a jog. That pat-pat-pat of placing one foot in front of the other in rhythmic time, breathing deeply. This tragedy was a temporary sideline, a necessary pit stop to pause and take stock of life, mortality, necessities, frivolities and everything in between those two numbers on the headstone represented by that infernal little dash.
Think about it, the entire summary of one’s life is reported with a single character separating one’s year of birth and year of death, etched in stone yet carrying so much meaning. Then if you’re lucky, someone wise will attempt to sum up all those years, be they many or few, with a few more words known as an epitaph. “Here lies, [your name here]…” What will it say?
The other option, very popular today for its economy if not prohibited by one’s beliefs is to be reduced to ashes. “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust” in its most literal sense. But then where is the “dash”, or where can you put an epitaph? Truth is, it is written in the hearts, minds and souls of those left behind. Rather than etched in stone and permanently unchanging, the “soulish epitaph” lives on as we honor those gone before with acts of kindness in their memory. A donation to charity or the arts, in memoriam, or another act of the will, with the purpose of paying forward the deposit made in our own accounts by the departed is like putting flowers on their headstone.
The memories of our loved ones lost live on as long as we let them, or rather as long as we make them.