How do you define a Successful life?
It has been just over two years now. One of those calls you fear getting at some point in your life, wishing it will never actually happen.
He collapsed at work. You need to come to the hospital.
The rearranging of plans. The incoherent racing of thoughts. And on that drive, the assumption that everything is okay, just like the last time. We have been down this road before, and everything was fine in the end.
He’s going to have to slow down. Take it easy. I’ll work with him on some diet changes, he’s liked some of my new recipes.
Emergency Room parking lots at small suburban hospitals are surprisingly empty at night. Peaceful, even. Walking in, approached by two strange men, with knowing faces. I can see the love. I can see the care.
There she is! We’ve been waiting for you, young lady.
Colleagues. Co-workers. Men who knew him far better than I knew him, which will happen after 25 years of working together. Over the course of a lifetime, you spend more time with them than your own family.
I can still see the closed door. The announcement. She’s here. The door opens. My stepmom, so anxious, blurting the only thing she knows to say.
It is surreal how the weight of grief can create the sensation of falling like sand into the earth. The heaviest of burdens and yet you merely disintegrate into the ground.
In the two years that have past, the weight of grief has relented. It is rare these days to fall into its immobilizing state. And yet on those rare occasions my plans take me on the same path towards the small suburban hospital, I still feel every emotion from that short yet endless drive.
You hope that when a loved one passes that you will only remember them as alive and vibrant. Unfortunately, I cannot help but remember him lying in that sterile hospital. After regaining composure, after that first of many reprieves from grief, when it let go enough so I could say goodbye. Cold; him, and yet not at all. A bit battered from the fight his body gave. And this is what it is like at the end. I am not ready for Goodbye.
As of last month, I am now the proud owner of a lifetime of his memories. Baseball tickets and pins and commemorative editions. Books and games and gifts never freed from their packages. Things. Things that hold memory, and yet not coming close to replacing the real thing. All spread about in half of a garage.
The message in our society is very clear; the purpose of our life is to grow up so that we can earn as much money as possible so that we can fill our lives with lots of things. That, they will tell you, is where Happiness can be found. It is what we are supposed to do.
Please. Do not buy in. Happiness is not found in stuff. It is found in Family. Friends. Creating memories rather than buying them. Finer things are indeed very lovely, but it is time to change the meaning of “Success” from the sole pursuit and accumulation of items to living your life to the fullest – whatever that means to you.
Dad’s life was Successful by standard definition. And yet I know that he did not live his life as he wished it would have been. A Successful life is not as complicated as we try to make it.
*Life is for Living.
*Show Love to all and Forgive your enemies.
*Accumulate as much knowledge and experience as possible.
Because our time here is short, no matter how long your life. And we are all Worthy.
Tomorrow, Saturday, July 12 would have been Dad’s 61st birthday. Last year, I declared his birthday as FitMommas Love Your Heart Day. (Which I better rename soon, since this won’t be FitMommas for much longer!) Tomorrow I will repost last year’s message on Heart Health in his honor. But today, I ask that you carve out some time to live life as you would like yours to be, or at least thoughtfully consider what that means to you. Let go of pain and anger that you may be holding towards someone. And go learn something or do something New to You. Life is indeed for Living, and we are all worth it.