And Then We Die …
By Bernadette A. Moyer
But have we truly lived? We all know that death is a definite, no one escapes it! If I live to be 100, I will only have known and experienced 100 summers and 100 Christmas holidays. It doesn’t seem like that is a whole lot so I have tried my best to live as full of a life as I can live.
When I was widowed at just 23 years old, I learned how quickly and unexpectedly life can be taken away. Through the years I have encountered people who when they learn this fact say, “oh I am sorry.” But for me it was a huge gift. It drove home for me how precious life is and that I wanted to get the full experience out of every single day and every single experience. I learned NOT to take anything for granted, our time here is not a given and it is limited.
I learned to appreciate the here and the now. My husband was also left at just 32 years old, when his wife Stacey unexpectedly died. Together we are mature beyond our years and often associate with people that are much older than us. Our peer group never really got it. Why would they? When I was 23 and declared a “widow” my peers were immersed in living while I was trying to comprehend death.
This “gift” has strengthened my faith in God, my understanding of life and of death. Initially when it first happened I couldn’t understand it. Then one of my older work associates stated, “Find a tree and visit that tree. Visit it in the spring and the summer and then again in the fall and the winter. That is life and that is death.” I learned this almost 30 years ago and it has been the view of life that I have come to understand. We are living and then we die just like that tree I visited in every season and every stage of its life.
When my first husband Randy died I had the following poem, Comes the Dawn, read at his funeral in 1983. I still live by it today. He was the one who shared it with me and it wasn’t that long before his passing that he shared it. Although his death was accidental and unexpected, I have often thought to have shared this with me, he might have known he was coming close to the end of his life and it was his way of saying good-bye.
Comes the Dawn
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security
And you begin to understand that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head held high and your eyes wide open
With the grace of a man, not the grief of a child
You learn to build your roads
On today, because tomorrows ground
Is uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of going down in mid-flight
After a while you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone else to bring you flowers
And you learn that you really can endure
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn … and you learn
With every good-bye you learn
Through the years, people have told me, “Your life is so interesting!” Some of it is by design and some of it is purely by life circumstances. However, I can and do appreciate it all. I do my best to squeeze every moment of life out of this life, this life that God has given to me.
As much as we know that death is coming nothing really prepares us for it, or for the loss of the people that we eventually lose to death. My mother was famous for saying, “We live in hope and we die in despair.” I don’t know how I will die but I do know that I do live in hope. I hope and I pray for love, for health, for understanding, for compassion amongst other things and I hope and I pray that when my time ends here on earth I will know that I have lived fully and with few if any regrets.
And as much as I know that I want to live, and to live for as long as I can, and with as much zest and exuberance as I can, I also know “and then we die.”
So let us all live and live fully and with no regrets …
Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
Books by Bernadette on Amazon and Barnes and Noble