A memory crossed my mind the other day and it has been visiting me a few times since then. It is from the summer of 1996, when my father was dying. It was his last day. My memory is from the early afternoon as we had all gathered to be with him.
I remember that we were all taking care of him, sitting with him in his front room as he lay in a rented hospital bed. We all knew what was coming; a particularly painful loss of someone we loved so very much, someone we had all loved for a long time, someone we had so many memories with. We could clearly see the end of his life coming. It was a day-long moment of anticipation of the end. We could see things would change for all of us, in mundane and profound ways.
I remember this one moment in particular; in the midst of our growing grief, I looked out the window. It was sunny and warm. Then two neighborhood children rode by on their bikes, completely unaware of us and our situation. They were happy and joking with each other as they rode. It made me happy to see it. It was in that moment I realized so many things at once.
I realized how little things can bring you a great emotional distance in an instant. That even though you may be experiencing something immensely difficult, the lives around you continue undisturbed. That the status quo you had depended on so much was really only temporary, and that you would be better off accepting that fact than denying it.
Oddly, that look out the window had given me just what I needed at that moment; hope.
I've had a long time to reflect on this since then, and I think about that day often. I suppose that day really changed me. When I have a particularly hard day I think to myself, "That day dad died was pretty hard and life looked very bleak. But my life since then has been rich and full of so much joy. I wouldn't trade it for anything." That thought gives me hope, and the will to go on.
I hope for peace for you and the people you love in the coming year.