Does the fragile nature of a thing make it more valuable? Taylor Lyons, my first cousin once removed, whom I’ve not seen since he was a baby, died last night. He was at college at the University of Mississippi. It appears that he fell down three steps and hit his head on concrete. He lay there for an uncounted amount of time and bled from his brain. By the time he was found, the pressure on the bleeding side of the brain had forced the other hemisphere to shut down or least that’s how it was explained to me. I can’t imagine how Wesley and Leslie feel right now. “No parent should ever outlive their child,” is a phrase I’ve heard more times than I can remember, but I believe it is true.
Papa, W. H. Stephens, my wife’s grandfather is 92. He lost Nana, his wife, 11 years ago. He is hard of hearing and has trouble walking and standing, spending much of his time in a wheelchair. Papa still lives by himself in the home he had built, so his only daughter could walk directly to school from her backyard. I know that it is only a matter of time before he passes away and that passing will carry as much pain in those left behind as Ma’s passing from cancer did when she died or when Vera was killed by her ex-husband. It does not matter the length of the life, the loss is always inconsolable to those left behind.
Lisa, my eldest daughter, is pregnant. She’s 18 and the baby will be born next summer in 2011. Lisa is so young and bringing a new life into the world is such a change for us all. I know the dangers that pregnancy can carry. So many things can happen to the fetus and to the mother, I worry. Even the beginnings of new life carry the whispers of death with it.
Death is everywhere. Animals cannot live without bringing death to something. Carnivores must eat other animals and those animals die. Herbivores don’t always kill their “prey,” but every squirrel that eats a nut prevents it growing into a tree and every rabbit that feeds a newly grown shoot in a garden stills the life of that plant. We don’t live without death. It is built into our genes. We are designed to wear out and we are very fragile in so many ways.
So, what do we do when someone dies and we are look into the face of mortality, ours and others? I say we live. Do not wrap ourselves and our children and our parents in cotton and put everyone away in the closet for safe keeping. Live. Recognize that every action has dangers. Don’t be foolish, but don’t hide away from doing things. If we lock ourselves in our houses and order everything in and have people come take away our trash and disposables, we are still in danger. Lightning can strike and burn our houses to the ground with us in them. We can trip and fall. A slip in the tub or a heart attack from no exercise are also dangers in our own homes. Live! Go! Do! Learn! Love! Remember. Grieve. Live.
I know (though I cannot explain how I know) that death is not the end. We are not separated forever from those that we love. What can we do until we are we united?
We can Live! It is what all our loved ones who have gone before us would want us to do. Until we meet again, Taylor, Ma, Nana, Grandpa Harry, Uncle Plug, Uncle Bob, Momeese, Ken, Grandma Lorranine, Vera and others I am missing in my grief right now, I love you all. I miss you all. I will live for you all.