Just the Nine of Us

Just the Nine of Us

Friday, July 29, 2011

What I've Learned From Death (and Life)

Grannie's funeral is today.

My other grandmother, Mildred Rose Collier, died when I was in first grade. She woke up in the morning perfectly fine, but had a brain aneurysm and by the afternoon she was gone. Perfectly healthy, only 55 years old. Just like that.

Grannie's husband, Elton Lee Pearson, died when I was a freshman at Auburn. He went fishing one day and never came back. Just like that.

Like many of you, I've had friends go to the doctor just because they were "normal sick", and come home with a few months to live. My ex father in law developed Lou Gehrig's disease and went from perfectly healthy and well, to wheelchair-bound, to gone, in seemingly no time at all. Brian's dad had a heart attack at 37. My husband went to school one day in the second grade, and came back home to the news that his father was dead. In an instant he left behind a young widow and three young children. Our friend Brian Rogers went to the doctor with a cold and found that he had stage 4 esophagial (sp?) cancer. He was gone 9 months later. At age 34. Leaving behind a young widow and three young children. Just like that.

I've become very aware that life today is not a guarantee of life tomorrow. When Brian leaves for work in the morning, he could never come back. Every day there is the chance that he could be killed in a car accident, work accident, suffer a heart attack, brain aneurysm, or something else. He could decide that he's tired of us and just not come home in the evening. Every time his truck pulls into my driveway, I should stop whatever I'm doing and run to him, put my arms around him, hug him so tight and tell him how happy I am that he is alive and with me. No matter what kind of day I've had or how I'm feeling, I should take the time to do that. I should tell him every day how much I appreciate the hard work he puts into his business to provide for us. I should make love to him even when I have a headache. Stay up and talk about what's on his mind even if I'm tired. Find out what he wants me to wear and wear it. Find out what he needs me to do and do it. I should.

On any given day, we could find out that one of our children has a deathly disease. Or one of them could run out in the road to catch a ball, and get run over by a truck. Allie could get in a car to go somewhere with her friends and die in an accident. Rosemary could go outside to play and get bit by a snake. I don't say these things to be worried and scared about the "what ifs", but to be aware that they could happen and be thankful each time that they don't. I should hug and kiss each child as often as I get the chance. I should tell them how happy I am to be their mother. I should tell them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creator who loves them more than they can imagine. I should teach them that the God who made them, gave them to me and I am thrilled about it. I should let them make the messes, help in the kitchen, even when I'm tired and don't want to clean again. I should lay in the grass and watch the stars with them, even when I think I'd rather just go to bed. When one of them is particularly cranky and I just want them to hush, I should get on the floor with them and hold them and find out what's wrong.  I should make brownies more often. I should only use fun Band-Aids for their boo-boos. Let them do the colorful bubble bath. I should make sure that our home is a sanctuary for them, a place of solace away from a harsh world. I should.

When someone dies, I always think about what I remember about them. The funny thing is, the things that stand out are always the kind of person they were, not what they accomplished or how much money they made. I think of their attitude, what they loved, how they made others feel. Everything else just really doesn't matter anymore. Maybe those things don't ever really matter.

I wonder what I will be remembered for when I'm gone. I want to have been a woman who showed love to everyone she was around. I want to have savored and enjoyed every aspect of life. I want my husband and children to have no doubt that they were top priorities. That they were deeply loved and cherished. I want to be remembered as a woman who laughed, and smiled, and loved, and hugged, and listened, who gave up what she could not keep to gain what she could not lose (Jim Elliott).

One thing is for sure, if I'm going to be remembered for those things, I better get started being them right now. . .

1 comment:

  1. "Children will not remember you for the things your provided but for the feeling that you cherished them" Remember that quote? What a beautiful post Julie.