We found this print in the Portland airport about a year after my dad died, and I brought it home. It has wonky looking people on a bike riding over some mountains with these words:
I wish you could have been there for the sun & the rain & the long, hard hills
For the sound of a thousand conversations scattered along the road
For the people laughing & crying & remembering at the end
But, mainly, I wish you could have been there.
I have the best family ever, even though we are tiny now, numbering only three. Regardless of our size, we have been through some heavy stuff together and have emerged stronger and more tightly knit than before... which was a hard feat to accomplish.
It sucked. But I think I learned the most crucial life lesson of all from loving someone so much then losing them way to soon - life is hard. People leave and die. People get sick and bad things happen to everyone eventually. What counts is how you are there to help other people through their hard times. Because, as I've said - they will happen to everyone eventually.
As these terribly bad, saddening things happen to my friends as the years progress, I can at least appreciate that my pain and slow healing will help someone else process pain, and begin to heal, slowly.
At this time of year I think of my dad, both his birthday this week and his death closer to Christmas. Now, I think of Christina's mom whom we lost last year. And Katie's dad who passed last night. And Alex's mom. And Jenn's stepdad, who is in the hospital now.
Sometimes there's too much sadness, but I am reminded daily that this pain has miraculously strengthened the relationships of those left behind.
So, Dad, Bea, Edith, Jim - we all wish you could have been there for the sun & the rain & the long, hard hills. Jimbo, keep up your strength, and get better soon, because it will be our voices scattering your names across the road as we continue on our ways. Love you all.