This post is selfish, I’ll admit that right off the bat. I’m hoping it will pull at least someone off their candy and Easter egg high and put a little dose of reality into this day. It’s Easter, we all know that. Even if you aren’t religious, like myself you can still appreciate things about this day that put life into perspective. For those of you celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus, well you have the same things to ponder after you’ve consumed that Easter ham and carton of Cadbury eggs.
My Grandfather passed away last night. He gave it a good fight but he was terminally ill. He knew his time was near and he took his impending death with the grace and serenity of his God behind him. He wasn’t afraid to die. Richard got a chance say goodbye to his friends, his family and his farm, all the while retaining his dignity and stoicism. He got a gift at the end of his days that so many of us will be denied. He got to say goodbye.
My Great-Grandmother passed away a few years ago, and Richard read a passage at her memorial service. He also said a few words of his own, directed at his family who sat teary-eyed in the pews before him. Don’t forget that life has an end and time doesn’t stand still. Remember what’s important in this life of ours: family. All the objects in the world will never hold the same meaning as the people we have in our lives. But more than that, the time we have with them is the most valuable of all assets we will hold dear on our own final days.
I got to visit Richard twice in the weeks before he passed. I count myself more lucky that most in that regard. I got to lock myself in his room and talk to him, tell him all those things that I never knew I needed to tell him until I saw him ready to leave. He was like a father to me. He loved me and was proud of me. He stuck up for me as a kid when no one else did, and I will never forget that. I won’t forget the lessons he taught or the wisdom he imparted. He will always be with me in those ways. A rare gift, indeed to be able to thank someone for all they have done for you, and thank them for all the love they have shown you. A rare gift to tell someone how much they mean to you and how much you love them.
I didn’t want to write this for the sympathy, and I don’t want a thousand prayers. I want a realization that your life, my life, should never be forsaken. I want to remind people that you have only one chance at this life and that everyday, every hug, every moment is a gift. Be it from your God or another creator, you’ve been given the gift of life and love. If you really want to know the meaning of life, just watch a mother coo at her baby or a grandfather smile at his grandchild. Love. Love is the meaning of life. To give and to receive the most precious of emotions. Jesus died for you because he loved you. A father cries for his children because he loves them. I cry for Richard because I love him, and he returned that love. Easter is about that ultimate act of love, giving your life for the life of another. You’ve been given this day, and hopefully the days that follow it, to express love. Never waste that gift, because you can’t retrieve it.
Billions of people will feel love and gratitude today. Don’t forget though, that this day should be no different from the rest, that you should feel love everyday, no matter how dark it may be. In death we see life, a closing of one door and the opening of another. Richard wasn’t afraid to die because he knew God was waiting for him on the other side with a hot cup of coffee and a comfortable rocking chair. Richard knew that life does not end when our souls leave and neither does love. It is recycled and will be re-gifted countless times until the end of days. He knew his love would never die, that it would live on in us all forever.
Cherish your family, cherish their love for there is no greater gift. Peace be with you all today.