encouragement, Human Behaviour, Human Nature

The Gradual Shock

When it first shows, we either deny it, embrace it, or cover it.

The off-white ceramic tile floor held tables, chairs, and persons. New, round tables were dotted with various beverages and paper plates of colourful food. Emotions varied according to each person’s experience, connection and memories. Laughter peeled through the community room; so did sniffles and polite nose blowing.

Unlike family reunions, yet actually similar, are funerals. Saying good-bye isn’t like the hellos of a fam-jam, yet the gathering is similar in the way a lot of people haven’t seen each other for a number of years.

I sat with a coffee, and a rumpled tissue pushed under one eye then the other. The acoustic guitar tribute got me. I noticed not just me. Afterward, I watched mostly well dressed feet going in purposeful directions on the clean floor. Some headed back to food and beverage tables, other strode to greet people who had nearly become strangers.

I recognized many, and the surprise was subdued, because people grow older, I know. Nonetheless, it grows where a once proclaimed illusion of never ending youth is taken for granted. The gradual shock of grey hair.

The shock got the spirals of my long lost friend’s rock and roll pride. The grey strands mingled with intrusiveness in his soft brown length. Bit by bit, some were tentatively welcoming maturity. Others, years behind my age, the gradual shock left them entirely white. Silver graced the crowns of many, working its way to temples and tips. The gradual shock is a respecter of no one.

How did we all get this old? We’re only in our fifties.

I mingled, my silver stripes demoting me from childhood golden locks. My peers silently brought me to a realization this February: it’s okay to look older. It’s all right to let the gradual shock cajole me into aging gracefully.

Funerals are the celebration of lives lived. Weddings, a celebration of lives joined. Both of these events demonstrate how time waits for no one, starting with matrimony; babies, grown children, then funerals of parents, and next our friends….

I observed. I said good-bye. I cried. I viewed photos. I mingled. I hugged. I laughed.

I wondered how it is going to be for me.

Thanks for reading.

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Celestial, Dying

When They Pass, Do They Tell Us?

My writing isn’t to convince any person of anything. I’m merely imparting my observations. Some believe loved ones communicate their parting, and others believe once we pass, that’s it: no more life whatsoever.

When I have had a falling out or simply lost touch with loved ones, something peculiar happens.

Through unfortunate, cruel circumstances, I’d lost touch with my dad. Three days after the funeral I had a dream-like experience and my dad spoke to me. The love permeating my entire being is more than I’ve ever felt. It surpasses human understanding. This love, with absolutely no need to voice, contained no judgement, rather unconditional acceptance.

My dad gave me insightful advice like he always did when he was alive. Peace, profound peace followed the experience. I may expound on it someday, where we were, who was there with us, the significants of the location, and how my dad’s health was restored, and it appeared he was fifteen to twenty years younger, and how I came out of the visit like I was popping up out of deep water, that shooting to the top, buoyed sensation. Another day I’ll take you with words to where I stood with my dad, and why.

Many years ago, a friend who had issues with herself let our friendship go. Time didn’t bring her back. I didn’t think of her much anymore. As the years passed, so did the wound close up. I was sorting files and she abruptly came to mind. Memories started playing like an old film. Vivid recollections of her face and voice engulfed me. I knew this meant I’d never see her in the flesh again. She’d died. I searched Google for an obit for many days, never finding a clue. But I was certain of her passing. Nothing had spurred on recollections of her at the time. No scents, no sights, no emotions. Nothing. I was hyper focused on sorting that day.

Sometime later I was given her obituary by a mutual friend. This confirmed the date of her coming to me with select recollections of notable aspects of our lifelong friendship. We met in grade one and carried our friendship through to our thirties. What changed was her search for a husband, a love of her life. I married first. She was deeply affected that our time together would not be the same since I was raising kids and had a husband to care for. Her letter ended our lifelong connection.

I believe she thought of me during our early years of separation, as I did her. Uncommunicative years passed, yet she came to let me know she abandoned her earthy form. There was no indiction of her after a few days of memories. No more profound thoughts or recurring visions in my head of her appearance. She came to say good-bye, and I don’t know where she is now.

Again this happened, just a week ago. I was engrossed in writing and unexpected memories flooded me about my daughter’s teen years friend. They were besties. It was always purely platonic, and he and I were like a mother and son. I remembered vividly how he thought I looked like Stevie Nicks. He told me this so often, I started examining my reflection, but I’m afraid only he thought so. Words we exchanged on a private walk rang clear. He came from a rough childhood and savoured solid advice.

I was taken back to laughter, tears, and fun shared by him, myself and daughter. We used to crank up Fleetwood Mac and dance our cares away. My husband’s approval of him came to mind during the flood of reminiscences. He never had an objection to my daughter and the good kid being alone in the house at age fifteen. Everyone loved his humour, his honesty, and his compassion.

My daughter called this morning. She just received the news of his passing—last week—February 2. She mentioned she didn’t realize he was saying good-bye last week when she started singing a song they loved together. Memories were hitting her, too. As with me, the going back in time was without reason, nothing caused it.

I should have caught on, and my daughter also since this isn’t the first time someone has called on us one last time.

When they pass, do they tell us? It is definitely real to me, the curious onslaught of recollections with no prompt—loved ones saying good-bye, then confirmation of death. I do believe there is life after death. Where? I don’t know. Heaven? Perhaps. Hell? Could be. A resting place in between? Who really knows? Like you, I’m going to have to wait to find out what the beyond holds as the secret.

Thanks for reading.

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