You know all those inspirational phrases about dancing like nobody's watching and living like its your last day on earth and all that? OK - I confess I've always been a sucker for a good quote. Sue me. Regardless, though I loved to read all these nice things I didn't really get it.
Now I do.
Last year sucked in a lot of ways. After a life in which I pretty much coasted past any big tragedies, my dad and my grandmother both died just about a month apart. My grandmother was 101 (I know, right??!!!) but my dad was only 67 and perfectly healthy, or so we thought. Turns out cancer was brewing in his liver and once it made itself known he only lasted a couple weeks. Boy, was I sick of hospitals and hand sanitizer.
I promise I have a happy, positive point - just stick with me here.
Despite the obvious bad stuff, all that crap triggered some pretty amazing things. At first it triggered the intake of lots and lots of wine. However, after that haze eased up I started to really think about all that had happened. My grandmother had lived a super long time - she'd met 6 great-grandchildren, and watched the advent of the automobile, televisions, computers. As for my dad, he had built a great life. He was a self-made man who wrapped a career as a communications executive and then started his own company. He had retired 2 weeks before he got sick, and when I was cleaning up his desk there was a to-do list that included "Plan trip to Paris." That hurt. BUT - he had also traveled the world with my mom, seen his kids build their own families, played a great golf game, loved his work and had a lot of people who loved him. He was an awesome guy. He lived well.
I didn't get it right away. Dad died March 20th. My grandmother died May 2. It took until November for me to react to the kick in the ass. And at that point it was like someone grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me silly, screaming "Wake the hell up!" in my face. You know all those things that you plan to do someday? Travel, write a book, start exercising, whatever? Well, newsflash: there is no someday. And there is no guarantee that there will be a tomorrow. This is IT. Life is happening right now.
Despite the obvious sadness of the loss, I can honestly say that the wisdom those two people gave me as part of their passing might be one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. Those cheesy quotes - well, they're right. And you know what else? We don't need to take it all quite so seriously. Yeah, sh*t happens. But mostly there's a lot of joy to be appreciated if you let yourself see it.
So I'm trying not to beat myself (or others) up over little things. Remembering to hug people I love. And I'm trying to get off my butt and do something I'm proud of.
Thanks, Dad and Nanny. I get it.