Life is hard and life is precious
It has been said that “we don’t know what we know until we know it.” And even then, it may not make the experience any easier.
Last Saturday, most of my late wife Bonnie’s ashes were buried in Astoria, Oregon. I chose not to attend the service. It has been nearly four months since she had passed and still it was a choice that I woke up regretting.
Unexpected grief and regret flooded my senses Saturday morning. I picked my teary-eyed self up to try to improve my spirits. With my small urn of Bonnie, I hiked up Kelsey Creek near South Canyon. I photographed her urn on rocks against the sky and beautiful surroundings. It was my way of privately celebrating her life in the way she would have wanted. I could almost hear her complaining to me for taking her on such a steep hike. Sharing the beautiful surroundings with Bonnie in my heart gave me peace.
Yesterday would have been her 62nd birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary. Again, I woke up with sadness in my heart. Heck, we had been separated for better than two years prior to her death. As we both suffered through her alcoholism I had wished her to be gone until I finally had enough and I was gone. Now I would give anything to have her back.
What I know now is that mourning can be a much longer experience than I realized. That first year after death, one goes through many milestones for the first time without your partner.
To be clear, this column is not being written as a plea for sympathy but rather as a desire to share what I know now from my experience.
As we go through life, think about all that we experience that we are not prepared for and most likely cannot be prepared to face. Even with the best parenting, education and/or spiritual guidance, we must learn from our own experiences.
Regardless of your stage of life I don’t think you are or will be prepared for:
• Learning how to successfully navigate from birth to adulthood.
• Relationships, including and especially marriage.
• Having and raising children.
• Developing a career.
• Your parents’ aging and death.
• Preparing for and entering retirement.
• The death of a spouse or loved one.
• Your own aging process.
If you are like me, you were too busy trying to enjoy life to the fullest to worry or think about such things. Those key life experiences come with pain and pleasure, leisure and hard work. And most of all, they have come with plenty of surprises.
Too often we allow our lives to be mundane. What I know now is that life is hard and life is precious and life should be savored. Embrace life and offer what you know to others to help them through their journey.
Ironically, as I finish writing to my music, Jerry Butler and the Impressions’ “For Your Precious Love” is flowing unplanned from my iPod. It was our song.
Michael Bennett is publisher of the Post Independent.
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