How do you explain the unexplainable to a child? Wait no, how do you explain the unexplainable to anyone for that matter. When it comes to life and death, how do you explain that life has its own order, —and that the natural order of life is only natural to us and our minds.
See, part of what I want to do is helping families process the feelings of their loss of a loved one. Dealing with addiction is filled with tragedies. But whichever the final reason may be, no matter how the loss happened, no matter why it happened, or whether the loss makes sense or not, part of what I want to do is help people come to a better level of understanding. I want to help people honor their feelings of loss; meanwhile, as they process their loss, I want to help people honor their memories so that life while lived is the best life possible.
To help teach acceptance, the only way I could do this (in my eyes) is to look back into my own process. I had to think about the losses I’ve seen throughout the years. Essentially, no loss is greater or less in value. Perhaps the level of emotion is different and the same could be said about the level of attachment; however, in my need to make sense of the senseless, I thought about the truth behind their circumstances.
It was years ago. Christine was living out east on Long Island. She was walking alongside the road with a small group of people when the car struck. And I recall my anger and confusion when asking, “How could something like this happen?” I wondered how something like this could happen when living out of harm’s way and while living in the quiet, safe, and protected atmosphere of some faraway place.
In an effort to make sense and in order to solve the angry riddles in my head, I started to think about The Old Man. I thought about the way he was when The Old Man passed and how he looked. The Old Man was half the man he used to be. He looked aged. He was gray. His hands were the same size, yet somehow, they looked as if they were depleted of their strength. I never saw The Old Man like this, —he was physically humbled and powerless. There was a fading absence in his eyes and an expression on his face that spelled it all. I had never seen a look like this before. Someone called this the death look.
I heard this expression from another family member. “I could see it in his eyes,” he told me. he called this the death look, and while yes, we all clung to hope and we all prayed for The Old Man to pull through, life happens without regard for our emotion. Life happened and in this case, the death look was accurate.
I was angry. I went through my stages of grief. I went through my stages of confusion and outrage. I felt cheated. I was angry that I was too young to lose my father. I was angry because I never had a good relationship with The Old Man and I was filled with regret because I regretted the actions I took, which split us further and farther apart.
How could something like this happen?
I started to think about the way The Old Man used to be. He was strong and capable. And with the problems between us aside, The Old Man was and always will be my first original hero.
Had The Old Man lived through his string of heart attacks and had his heart pulled through; had the procedures been effective and had the medical phenomenon and medical advancements took place, yes, The Old Man would have pulled through. But no, The Old Man would have never been the same.
I thought about this for years. I thought about the life my Old Man would have lived had he pulled through. He wouldn’t have been able to do the same things he used to. He wouldn’t have been able to be active. True, he wouldn’t have been alive, but The Old Man wouldn’t have been able to live. So he was called home, in my eyes. The Old Man was called home to live with the Angels is how I saw it. I chose to see it this way because he was too sick to stay. He passed because (in my eyes) God called him home because he wouldn’t have done well here.
When my cousin Robbie passed, he dreamt about a bus that came for him. Robbie explained my Old Man was driving the bus and that our grandparents were with him. Robbie was sick. I recall as he lay in bed at the hospital. He looked weak. He was tired and while yes, we all clung to hope and we all prayed for the best, —Robbie was too sick and just like The Old Man; Robbie was called home because had he survived, Robbie wouldn’t have been alive enough to live. Therefore, God called Robbie home.
Now, going back to Christine, she was not sick. She was not in the hospital. She was young. And she was beautiful to me. But yet, still, had she lived through the accident and survived, it is true she would have been alive. But I’m not sure she would have been alive enough to live.
I chose to find my acceptance in this: That God saw them as they were and called them home because they were not well enough to stay. And had they stayed it would have only satisfied me and the rest who love them. And because I truly love them, I choose to see it this way. I choose to see my lost loved ones together, without suffering, and in a better place.
With regards to my Mother, she held on for a long time. She was not happy. She was in pain most days. Her immune system was poor and the pain pills took away much of her previous self. I watched her go through surgery after surgery. I listened to her at the worst of times and the angriest of times as well.
When Mom passed, I was there for her. I was there, in which case, it was me that had to sign the forms to have her taken from life support. I did this so that she could pass according to my mother’s wishes. And yes, it hurt. And yes, I prayed and I clung to hope. However, when God called Mom home, I understood that she was called home because she wouldn’t be able to stay here anymore.
Life is meant to be lived and not endured. This does not satisfy the broken heart but it did help me make sense of the senseless.
A few months before we put Roxxy the Dog to sleep, I recall talking to the vet about what we could do to help Roxxy live a longer, happier life.
The vet explained, “Look, if she likes to chase squirrels, let her chase squirrels. And if she likes chicken treats, let her eat chicken treats.” She told us.
“Let her live,” she said
“Okay, stopping her from chasing squirrels might save her a few days and stopping the chicken treats might keep her around longer, but will she be happy?”
I never forgot this. But the vet was right. Life is meant to be lived and it’s meant to be lived to the best of our ability. So in my plan from this day forward, I will chase squirrels (figuratively speaking) and live my life to the best of my ability because a time will come when I am called home, and when I stand before those I love and when I stand before my creator, I don’t want to have to explain why I chose not to live my life to the fullest without them. Instead, I want to explain why I chose to live because of them.
I cannot, do not, and I will not believe that those we love who’ve passed would want us to mourn painfully and somber enough to keep us from living oor life simply because God called them home. On the contrary; I believe those I love and lost would want me to live to the best of my ability. Therefore, I will honor their memory by living as best as I possibly can.
How do I explain the unexplainable?
I’m not quite sure.
But I am gonna try
I think Mom and The Old Man would be happy that I did