Saturday, November 5, 2011

Love and Death

Today, I'm sad about my husband's grandfather. He passed away yesterday, and his funeral will be held tomorrow. The Man will be there, but I will not, primarily out of respect for the family. I am not close to my husband's family, which is not the way I want it, but I am not going to force the issue at such a sad time.

I will be thinking of all of them, though, with affection and sympathy. "Papa" Paul was a great man. I didn't know him well, because the family situation has prevented it. I read his memoir, though, and I have nothing but respect for him. He was interesting, intelligent, and successful. He lead a fascinating life, raised a family, and lived into his nineties. He was roundly adored by his children and grandchildren.

I wish I'd gotten to know him, but more than that, I wish my Small had known him. Because we live far from the grandparents, and because we are not close to that side of the family, Small only had the opportunity to meet him twice, and she does not remember him. I tried to keep them up to date on her life, through photos and notes, but I will admit I was not as good about it as I should have been. It was hard, because I am not someone with whom that side of the family attempts to connect.

It makes me think, though, about how minor our gripes with each other really are. I don't mean the issues between me and my in-laws in particular, but the complaints between people in general. When my own grandmother passed away, earlier this year, I felt sad about times I could have spent with her and didn't. I knew she loved me, she knew I loved her, but I could have sent more photos, made time for more visits, stayed longer and listened more willingly. Now, facing another funeral, I feel the same heaviness of heart.

My friend's mother passed away last week. She was not sick for very long, in the grand scheme of things. She was about the same age as my mother, I think, and beautiful. She looked strong, but she was not. I saw her a couple of weeks before she died, and I knew at that point that she was not responding well to treatment, but I had no idea that was the last time I'd ever see her. I patted her arm, told her I was praying for her, but if I'd known that was the last time, I would have hugged her.

If I'd known my husband's grandfather was going to be gone so quickly, I would have encouraged forced done whatever it took to make him go visit his grandparents before it happened. But isn't that the sort of thing we always say? I know it's the sort of thing I always say. I'm going to visit more, complain about people less, send more notes, more photos, make more phone calls. I'm going to share the good things in my life with the people I love while I still have the chance. I'm going to forgive more easily. Better yet, I'm going to decline to take offense in the first place. I'm going to choose not to take offense, to resist pressing my own agenda.

I always say it, and I always attempt it, but I'm not "there" yet. I want to love with abandon, or at least more assertively. I want to love my mother-in-law whether she wants me to or not. And I want to encourage my uncommunicative husband to communicate, because he cares, he just doesn't always show it.

How about you? Do you show it? Are you purposefully conscious of the uncertainty of life? Do you strive to love abundantly, and without reservation?

Several months back, I read a familiar passage of scripture in a different translation. It struck me, and now I read it all the time, whenever I need to remember how we're supposed to love each other, and what that really means. And so, I'll leave you with this, because loving like this is the ultimate goal of my life.

1st Corinthians 13: 4-8 (From the J.B. Phillips translation):

This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience- it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress, nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. 

Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it shares the joy of those who live by the truth. 

Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. Love never fails.

No comments: