The Most Precious Gift

Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.  – Walter Anderson

It has been one week since I sat at my father’s bedside, held his hand and watched his last breath. It hardly seems real.  So much has happened since then. Family has stayed for a visit, so many papers have been signed, things collected, thoughts shared, tears cried…A lifetime has been lived in each heartbeat of the last week.

Both of my parents died on Wednesdays. And if you count by weeks, not by the date, they died exactly 7 months to the day apart. That cannot be a coincidence.

Even though I handled everything for Mom’s passing, it is still strange to do things like this for Dad. You are never really prepared to do these things for another loved one.

And as the weekend nears, plans for my father’s service are falling into place. The locations are secured, catering, flowers, guests, donations. Who will speak during the celebration has been chosen, where out of town guests will stay has been determined.

Messages of love and support still pouring in from wonderful friends and loved ones.  And while sleeping in the house is still a bit iffy, I do not wake up crying.  No waking up shaking either.  But this week is a whirlwind and it makes me apprehensive about what it will be like once the activity dies down.  Next week, when there is no service to plan, and no guests to take care of…what will that be like?

It will be the calm after the storm, so to speak. Yet there will still be plenty to do.  Real estate, lawyers, planners and going through his things.  Working and figuring out the new normal. It is still a lot to take care of alone, but I remember who I am, and move forward. You can travel miles with baby steps.

Taking care of me and my needs, making sure that only people who give are in my life, not those who take.  Making sure that all in my life is good and nurturing. And already I can feel joy seeping in…just a little, drop by drop now. I look forward to getting settled after such a tumultuous time.  And that hope, that optimism, that curiosity will carry me through along with my faith. And I have learned that is the most precious gift.