Life is a funny little thing.
One minute we are soaring high as a kite, nothing but bright blue skies around us, a warm sun shining on our daily lives. We feel on top of the world and look forward to the future with a kind of unstable confidence, a sort of walking on eggshells feeling. We hope so much for ourselves. We try to get out of bed every day and do our best to be kind and considerate to who we meet. We challenge ourselves, some more so than others.
We look forward to our weekends, enjoying those short 48 hours where anything is possible. Where we don’t have to worry about emails, phone calls, staring bosses, tight deadlines and impressing others. We get a call or a text to go to a quite bar with a few close friends. We share a pizza and a beer. We meet up, go to the cinema, call around to each others houses. We catch up with family, we hold babies, smiling and living moments.
We put our arms around our Mother, we chat to our Father. We roll over on a lazy Sunday morning, the warm sun shining on your skin, lighting up the sleeping darling that lies beside you. You wrap your arms around him, or her, you breath it in. You smile. You feel content in this moment. You realise how lucky you are.
What would you do if this person, that makes you laugh and smile, was suddenly gone? What happens when the very reason for your smile is taken away from you?
From a young age, we are taught to respect our parents, love our friends, and treat others with kindness. We are rewarded, endlessly and unconditionally, by a lifetime of happy memories. You thank your crows feet for the reason behind all those side-splitting, laughing out loud, giggling-until-you-can’t-hold-it-in-any-longer, moments.
Maybe it was the joke your friend cracked to you in class, or maybe it was the way you laughed with your friend when they told you about a funny thing that happened to them. Maybe it was laughing at your parents 40th wedding anniversary because you can’t believe your Dad wore that shirt. You laugh at your Best Man speech, you laugh at your Hen night. Your life is so perfect. Sure you have your ups and downs but you have these moments, that made you so happy. So much to look back on. Laughing and laughing, not thinking about when it might end.
Maybe your laughter was shared at times when you felt it was inappropriate. Maybe you got all dressed up with your best friend for a night on the tiles and in a disaster, one of you falls and ends up in a cast. You do the right thing; you stand beside her, stroking her head, bringing her coffee and soften the blow by laughing with her, making light of a situation that neither of you had no control over. It was just one of those things. Perhaps you and the guys got a bit too crazy on your weekend away and spent a few hours in a cell. It seemed so serious at the time, but every time you meet up you hear the verse – “Remember that time when….” and you double over laughing because you are carefree. Because you can. You vow, for as long as you both live, neither of you will forget that night.
Maybe you hold your friends hair back when she had a little too much wine. Maybe you watch the game with your friend when he can’t make training because he’s not well. Maybe you dab the sweat from your childs forehead when they’ve caught a stomach flu.
Maybe you held your friend, a parent or a partners hand when they went for their chemotherapy and you both joked about their hair or the awful hospital food. You look into each others eyes, a deep subconscious knowing flitters between you, and you realise that these special moments will be worth so much more. That some day it is coming. Days pass, people move in and out of their room, wishing their best but knowing this is a goodbye. You can see with every new morning, that the nights rest they had just won’t erase the tiredness that is in their bones. Finally, the time comes when you see that look from the doctor. And within an instant, all those memories that you shared together become a vault of treasures that you want to just jump into and never leave. It’s one of those times in life that serves as an omen. That reminds you.
You sit back and you thought about those times you laughed and you thought; No, it’ll never come to my door. Yet, here you are.
Maybe your memories aren’t as scary or as real as those. Maybe you, and those close to you, were lucky enough to get away with nothing more than a few stitches, a scraped knee or a bruised ego. Your memories are no less important than anybody else’s. But it doesn’t excuse you from the one thing we all need to think about.
Someday we will lose the reason for our smile. Our laughter. Some day it will become our tears.
You could be the person that laughs outwardly, but inside you’re laughing to the point that when you sit alone, and everyone is gone, there’s nothing left to do but cry.
You could be the person that leaves this world suddenly, abruptly. Or you can be the person with a long life who will be left with the question of what you would do differently if you could go back and change something. Regret can be an awful thing, especially at a time of grief. You might think “I wish I did this with them, I wish I told them I loved them more….”
I wish…I wish…I wish.
It is horrible, it is painful and it can age you to a point of madness. People die every day, they die from illness or they die by accident. Taken in a moment of complete and utter unfairness. No matter how brief or short the consequences of their loss, it doesn’t make you feel any better about death.
You fear forgetting what they smelled like, what their face looked like. The way their eyes lit up when they smiled. But through those moments of darkness, that is the very thing to focus on.
Moments never leave us; love never leaves us.
Their smile, their humour, their memories with you. Death can never take those away.
You will build your life back up around the vacancy of the reason for your laughter. You will continue to move on, no matter how guilty you may feel about it; because you have to. Your life, and your time without them will move on. And you will begin to make more happy memories.
You will switch on the tv and it could be their favourite programme that comes on. You could be driving in your car and you will think about them just as their favourite song comes on the radio. It could be the way the wind brushes against you when you visit their grave. You could be at a gathering and someone will say their name to you and how sorry they are, and your heart will sink into your stomach as they share their memories of that person with you. But make no doubt about it, even in the vacancy, there is peace.
And you will sit down and remember all those times you argued together, laughed together, been there for each other and thought about life together.
And you will laugh, until you cry happy tears.
Because you knew love.