Originally posted by Dave Thompson on IronMegan.com personal blog, March 26, 2013 (exactly one year after the death of his sister, Katherine)
When I traveled to Spain with friends years ago we learned a valuable life lesson. It was a long trip (and an awesome, incredible, amazing trip with great friends) but we had a few stressful points so at one point I started saying “ sucks” (I’m sure one of them remembers specifically what sucky part brought this on – another detail I’ve forgotten over the years). We soon realized the more we said that the more it really did suck and the more things went wrong. So we stopped saying it. We started thinking positively. Things got better. The trip turned out awesome! This lesson applies to each of us every day. The books The Secret and The Power of Positive Thinking capitalize on this.
Spread good vibes
I try to be positive. I’ve made great strides the last several years – and I try to share those good vibes. In the spirit of that, last February (2012) I wrote a blog post entitled “Good things happen to good people” – that whole post was about positive things. Oh, the irony. The whole post was about ‘how great Spain was’ – all good stuff. Amazing how that same world can be completely turned upside-down a month later. It makes me think of that great Woody Allen quote, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”
Assume good things are always happening
Don’t read too much into any of that. God isn’t laughing at us, and I’m not cynical to positive thinking. But I doubt you’ll see another completely, totally, absolutely positive post from me about all the great things happening. Even if and when they are happening I’m not sharing so blatantly – you can just assume it’s always happening, ok?
Finally finding peace with my sister’s death
I read God Never Blinks this week – it’s a collection of short newspaper publications by the author, Regina Brett. She had a chapter titled “It’s okay to be angry with God. He can take it.” That made me laugh & relate to it. My range of emotions this year have been all over the place. It took me a long time to understand and accept that Katherine didn’t have a choice – she had an illness that took over and left her no other options. It took me a long, long time to let her know that I understand and hope that she’s in a better spot for her and at peace. And for me to tell her that. I don’t like it but I can’t change it. Of all places and people, it took a night in a bar, with the spouse of a friend directly in my face sharing a crazy-unreal, goose pimple-inducing story and then asking what felt like were awkward and personal questions to make it click with me and change my thoughts.
Here come the quotes…
I’m not sure that I’m ready for the messages in all of the quotes that follow, and I’m not always ready to focus on the future, but I will continue to ponder and learn from these quotes.
This same book goes on to say,
“You don’t need a cancer verdict to start living more fully. Every day, light a candle. What a great reminder that life is short, that the only time that matters is now. Walk out of boring movies. Close any book that doesn’t dazzle you. Greet every morning with open arms and say thanks every night with a full heart. Each day is a precious gift to be savored and used, not left unopened and hoarded for a future that may never come.”
I also read Beauty Beyond the Ashes: Choosing Hope After Crisis, by Cheryl McGuinness today. Her husband was the pilot of one of the planes that hit the towers on 911. She has a strong religious focus that I won’t go into but I did like these lessons from one of the chapters.
(1) Life goes on. As unfair, unreasonable, and impossible it seems, we still have work to do after a tragedy occurs. We still have roles to fill. We still have responsibility to family and others. The stuff of life may pause for a while, but it doesn’t stop. Fair or not, that’s reality. (2) Healing requires active participation. If we can summon the strength to take the first steps, the healing will come that much sooner. If we don’t take those first steps and participate with God in our healing process, we die while we are still alive. God tells us to trust him, get up, and take one more step of faith toward healing – in spite of our feelings. (3) Many details about the future remain unknown. Walking with Jesus involves walking by faith. Our attempts to control the future are fruitless. Those of us who have suffered loss understand only too well that we control very little in our lives. The promise of tomorrow is given to no one. We need to appreciate each day as a special Gift from God and focus our hearts on him, seeking to know and understand his will on a day-by-day basis. We need to take God’s Word to heart when he tells us in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” My prayer is that you will also come to know hope, not despair; courage, not fear; love, not hate.
Yes, I’ve been busy reading this week. Here’s a similar thought from Suicide and Its Aftermath, by editors: Edward J Dunne, John L. McIntosh, and Karen Dunne-Maxim.
“Moving on does not mean forgetting. It means gaining freedom through closure and giving up feeling victimized. It means going on with our lives, with each other, with our living sons and their families, with other relationships, and with life as it really is, not as we would like it to be. It means eventually being able to move beyond the event of suicide to remember and celebrating the life of our daughter. We are facing our future with a greater sense of who we are. Our awareness to increased divorce rates to parents of suicide recommits us to working through our thoughts, feelings, and differences, determined that our bonds of loving and struggling should not be broken. We now know that we cannot control what happens to us, but we can take charge of how we respond. We can no longer change the destiny of our beloved daughter, but we can be sure that our lives will be more meaningful, purposeful, compassionate, forgiving and loving. My life has changed and I will never again have the same innocence. But perhaps there is hope for others more newly bereaved in the fact that life has continued on with a new awareness of the fragility of life, with a deepened spirit and commitment to life and with the certainty that, although life is not perfect, it is good.”
Ok, one more…Suicide: Why? by Adina Wrobleski says something similar:
“While we cannot bring the person back, and while there are no second chances with the person who died, there are many second chances with the living. There is an opportunity to make up in the present what is desperately wished for in the past. The death of a loved one changes people; how they change is up to each individual.”
And just a few more quotes I’m still noodling over…not sure what I think of some of these…
I’ve come across this quote a crazy amount of times recently, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” -Philo of Alexandria or Plato or maybe somebody else. If only we knew about those battles.
“The mind is its own place, and in itself, Can make Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven” -John Milton
How about this one? “You got to go through hell before you get to heaven” – maybe this is taken out of context from what the Steve Miller Band meant, but after this hellacious year I’m taking this to mean that we’re all going to heaven.
We’ll get through this together
It’s been a tough day but cherish those memories and we’ll continue to get through this together. Love to you all. Rest in peace my beautiful sister.