September 2018 was a mixed bag. It was one of those months that the words of Victor Hugo rang true, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. I started the month going on a long planned trip to Iceland. My traveling companion was my friend who suffers from an eye disease that will leave her blind. This trip was especially meaningful to both of us.
We had two lovely days in Reykjevik when I received the news that one of my oldest and dearest friends had passed away. He and I had just spoken a few weeks before with plans to meet for lunch. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that he was gone. Here I was in Iceland without the ability to contact our mutual friends. I wanted desperately to connect with his family and had no way to do it. I felt sad and lost.
I continued my trip with the pall of Tom’s death over it. We had a lifetime friendship. He was gone and there was nothing I could do. I thought of him and talked about him. My friend had only known his name and some stories, but not him. She didn’t know how funny he could be and what a wonderful shoulder he was to cry on. Lisa didn’t know how Tom and I wrote for the high school newspaper and how he had attended every major event of my life. In the beauty of Iceland I mourned his passing.
Death is a great teacher. I needed to ask myself, what had I learned from the death of my friend?
Life is short - No one has a guarantee of tomorrow. It sounds cheezy, but it’s true. If we lived our lives as if each day were out last, how would we live them differently? Would we stay in the bad relationship? Not make the changes that we have been longing to make? Would we keep putting off what we really want?
We aren’t in control - It’s bad news for control freaks, but you aren’t in charge. Sometimes things just happen. Certainly, we can all be in charge of what we do, but we can’t always control the circumstances around us. When life throws a curveball, you need to develop the resiliency and flexibility to handle it.
Death is rebirth - I watched an interview with Steve Perry. He talked about feeling broken when he left Journey. It felt like a death to him. Perry also spoke of his wife’s death and how her life and death really gave him the courage to start singing again. It was as if his loss gave him the strength he needed to live his passion.
Death is inevitable. We have small and large deaths in our life. The one thing that remains true is that everything changes. Our choice is to grieve, accept and move on. The lessons that we learn from loss can be invaluable. It can make a difference in a life that is merely an existence or one that is well lived.