Lessons from Death

Few can understand its wallop unless having taken Death’s punch.  I have lost two husbands, and I do not “heal” after losing a spouse.  But with time, I feel less sting at the sight of Bob’s old wallet, or a pair of my mother’s shoes.  Most people do not realize the subtle sorrows that hide in my heart, yet the heart is where I keep the treasures of lives passed.  The heart is the real home, not the house I live in.

I have learned that happiness is like a bird that lights briefly, then, at the slightest provocation, spreads its wings taking feathers to the wind.   It is transient, for it comes and goes in the flash of a present moment.

But sadness shares this transience, as well.  Sometimes at night when I crawl into my queen size bed, perfect for two bodies but oversized for one, the grief clogs up my heart, then the tears clear it out.  Grief is to be respected, so I do not avoid its sadness.  I give it the time it needs, no more, no less.  I cry when my heart needs to cry.

I no longer search for happiness.  Instead, I invite happiness by scheduling times that bring joy and laughter to my heart.  I schedule slumber parties of girl-talk and movies and smiles with my adopted-by-the-heart nieces, Allyson and Megan, or go on photo shoots with friends, or take classes.  Sadness is seductive, so I have learned from Death that I must balance tears with smiles.

Perhaps Death’s most important lesson is in the giving – for me, in the giving to Bob, the giving to Mother.  The times were rich with meaning.  As my heart ached, my ability to love grew, my compassion grew, my soul grew.  I had purpose.  Life had meaning, and life’s meaning is about giving.

Yes, Death is my teacher.  And so, I move forward in life pulling the lessons of my past into the present.  Most importantly, I let the passion of giving and writing and loving push me into the future.

Bob and Mom would have agreed.  He would have walked over to me, tapped my butt and said, “Keep it up, Babe.”  Mom would have looked at me with a wry smile and said, “Bob is right, Dear.”

© 2013 Jeanette Reese


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3 Responses to Lessons from Death

  1. Corinne Comeau says:

    Thank you Jeanette. I needed this right now. I am having health issues do to not grieving or just missing Tammy so much and working to hard and not dealing with the stress at work. I see or hear her every time I turn around. I will try to follow your example. Miss you. Corinne

  2. Janet says:

    As always, your writing revealing your emotions in such a raw form. Suffer wisely and gently. Thank you for sharing your loves.

  3. Roy Weightman says:

    Jeanette, I absolutely love “Lessons From Death” It’s such a positive inspiration for all. I’m requesting your permission to use this at my next grief group meeting.


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