I Do Not Mourn a Life Well Lived
Death is often personified as the Grim Reaper, or some other being, stalking the living until they are able to steal our loved one from our world. There is a reason for that, it's how it feels. Death is probably one of the most common themes of stories around the world, each trying to make sense of the phenomenon we will all one day experience. Because death is an inevitable part of life, no matter how hard we try to avoid it, no matter how many fantastic scenarios we dream up in our books, death will come for all of us one day.
It has come to our family twice this year, my husband and I each losing a grandmother, and in both cases these wonderful ladies had what I consider to be one of the greatest gifts in this life: the opportunity to face death head-on and to say goodbye to their loved ones.
My greatest fear is of death coming as a surprise, of my life ending in the blink of an eye. I am grateful that these ladies were able to say their goodbyes and leave this life with their loved ones at their sides. That is a good death. I hope to be so lucky when my time comes.
And neither of these ladies are simply gone. Just because their bodies have ceased to support their souls does not mean that their existence, their influence, has vanished from this earth. It is just the opposite, they will continue to live on in the legacy's they left behind for many, many, many years to come.
Because they both left lasting impacts on the people around them. Most importantly on their grandkids. Their love and teachings are an integral part of my husband and I, and that has influenced not only our memories and the little things we can teach our own children, but (and I think this is the most important part), they influenced who we are. Grandmothers in particular, but everyone in general, help mold our perceptions of ourselves. They influence who we think we are, who we think we should be, what our place is in our families, and in our world.
By molding our sense of self, these ladies have influenced who we are as people, as spouses, and as parents. And that teaching is being passed down to my kids right now.
Yes my Mimi taught me how to sew, bake cookies, and appreciate a good story.
Yes, she encouraged my imagination through dress-up, playtime, shadowing her in the office and kitchen, letting me type on her typewriter, and taking me on adventures.
But the most important thing she did was to teach me about life. She taught me I was special, and to be kind because everyone was a person with their own struggles. She taught me to see adults for who they really were. She encouraged me to try harder. She taught me about feminism and standing up for yourself. She taught me the world is complicated and run by flawed people, that you have to see past that to the truth. And that the truth is often too simple for the average person to grasp.
And it's those things that have molded my world, the world I now shape around my own children. Her teachings and legacy will mold who my children become because they molded me and who I am now.
Yes, of course the little things like tea cups and congo squares will always make me smile and think of her. I will teach my boys how to make cookies and tell them stories about my Mimi. But her real legacy is in the people she touched because it influenced each of them, and me, into more confident, understanding human beings.
We are sad and we mourn that these wonderful ladies are no longer here in body, but they are most certainly not gone. I am so very happy and grateful to have known them and been blessed by their love. I celebrate the long and fulfilling lives they were able to live and that they were able to say their goodbyes.
When death comes for me I hope I can wrap my arms around my loved ones and let them know how much they meant to me.
(I apologize for any typos or mistakes in this post. As you can imagine, I didn't feel like proof-reading it. It is merely the story on my heart as I woke up this morning, poured out on to the keyboard.)