Thursday, 5 November 2015

Death, you suck but...

"Death you suck! You take all the nice people."

I originally posted this as a status update on Facebook and then took it down. Not because I don't really feel that way, but yes because I don't really feel that way. Yes, death sucks. Yes, it does take all the nice people. But...

So first, allow me to give you some context to this post. I'm sitting here at a pub in my black dress on the way home from a funeral, having just missed my train, drinking a glass of red wine while wiping tears from my eyes as I wait for the next one.

The funeral I'm returning from was for my colleague, Judy. We taught together in the same year level for four years. Judy was one of the kindest and most lovely people I have ever had the pleasure to know. During the time we worked together, I held my first "teacher leader" position as the head of year. Judy was always there to reassure me during my first year in that position that yes, I had made the right decision, and yes, what I said at that meeting needed to be heard and wasn't stupid. In addition, she listened when I had to rant about my personal life, and she always had a gentle, wise perspective that left me feeling both better and empowered.

Then, I moved to another year level and saw Judy less. For the next five years when I'd pass her in the corridor or see her at a faculty meeting, she would always touch me on the arm and say, "Heather, I never see you anymore." I'd acknowledge that with some lame excuse about work or different schedules and say I'd pop by to say hello more often. Sadly, that rarely happened.

Tonight, I did have a chance to see and catch up with many wonderful people I work with whom I rarely get to see. There was, of course, one glaring exception to that. But, pictures and memories of her lined the walls of the room. 

I stared at one of the pictures on that wall longer than the others. It was a picture from our first year of working together. We were on a field trip to the British School of Ballooning, and Judy, me, and two other teachers were all in a basket of a hot air balloon about to be lifted into the air. As I looked at that picture, I heard a colleague behind me say, "It really puts it all in perspective, doesn't it?"

It does. 

All that other crap consuming your life doesn't really matter so much. Your job, a hurtful thing someone you barely know said, that rude person on the train, that stuff doesn't matter. What matters is the people you love and who love you. What matters is that you appreciate their existence on a daily basis. What matters is the little miracles that happen naturally right under your nose. What matters is the beauty that surrounds us and is also in us. What matters is that you embrace and live the life you have right now and in this moment. What matters is the way you treat others.

This isn't the first time I've had death give me this reminder. In fact, earlier this year my friend, Tom, another beautiful soul, was cruelly taken from this earth far too soon. And death's lesson of life appreciation rang in my ears then, as it has each time someone I love has been ripped from this earth.

But, after a while that beautiful yet painful raw emotion of unlimited appreciation and love fades as we all get sucked in to the drudgery of our lives and begin once again to sweat the small stuff. However, thanks to the loss of someone we love perhaps we'll come up for air to love and appreciate what we have a bit more often.

So yes death, you suck. You do take all the nice people, but thanks for the reminder.

However, I still think you're an asshole.

1 comment:

Marjorie Williams said...

Glad you saw the hot air balloon shot of you, Judy and Richard and will send a copy. I called Leah last night to tell her they read her letter in the eulogy and she tried to give perspective to my shared 'death sucks' feelings saying: "Did you ever consider people who do so much good with a pure caring heart filled with genuine compassion and love move on from this life on earth quickly?" Judy was a very special person and always saw the best in others. On a personal level, I want to spend less time on the minutiae and more on others,
what really matters. Thank you for succinctly expressing what many feel. Hug, Marjorie