When my father passed away suddenly, unexpectedly, in his sleep one night, my whole entire world turned on its axis. Tilted if you will. The thing I remember most about that day, that moment, that section of my life, is that I had never driven my car as fast as it was going, only briefly thinking if I don’t slow down, I won’t make it there alive…but I remember thinking this isn’t real. This isn’t happening. I am going to pull into the driveway and they are going to tell me they gave him CPR and he was alive, it was ok. I didn’t know he had died many hours before. None of us did. And very few people know that we did find out the time he had passed, thanks to the miracle of science and a CPap machine. By the time we realized my father had left this earth, it was over a day too late to save him. But I also remember thinking; it is way too beautiful of a day for this to be real. This is a horrible dream, and why are all these people in it. There was not a cloud in the sky, it was so beautiful blue and the air was perfect, like 75 degrees, and I remember checking the temperature for reasons I will never know.
The point of this is the following:
The person who drove in to that driveway is not the person that is typing this blog. She is gone. And it was not instant…in fact it took several months, because even when you are grieving, you don’t know you are grieving. I was in a literal fog. If you have ever lost someone this close to you, you understand.
The girl who drove in to that driveway spent a lot of the days prior to this moment, not living in the moment. Not doing things I wanted to do, for reasons like: I did not have enough time, I could not miss work, I did not have the money, I was too tired, whatever reason, I had one. And I spent a lot of time alone. Not really sure what I was looking for, but I couldn’t find it. Even after he passed away, I shut myself in my tiny little home and distanced myself from a lot of people because grief is ugly. It makes you feel ugly. It makes you sick to your stomach ugly. And I did not want anyone to see it or me. A lot of things happened during this time that I wish I had done differently but I do not regret it, because everything teaches us a lesson of some sort, and I do not even wish to go back and re do those things or do them differently, they happened. They taught me a lot about myself.
Eventually, the darkness cleared and something happened. Something changed inside of me. I was no longer putting things off that meant something to me or that I wanted to do. Opportunities that had always been in front of me were right there again, blaring, TAKE ME, TAKE THIS, DO IT! And so I did.
Since my father died I have crossed off several bucket list items. And it is not like I hadn’t done bucket list stuff before, but this time it was different. This time I felt these things to my core. LET myself feel again, but good stuff. Not sad stuff. And a funny thing happened when I did this…the universe opened up and said, hello Tiffany, we have been waiting for you. And I finally got the guts (that were 3 years in the making) to talk to Kristina…and I wouldn’t stop talking…I made her listen to me. Made her SEE me. I boldly screamed HERE I AM and you are going to love me. And low and behold she did. But this blog is not about Kristina and I.
Some very dear friends of mine have lost their sons to war. Whether it was in active duty or as a result of a war, they lost them. And since I will never have my own children, (sorry if I mention that often,) I will never know that kind of loss. My step father lost his son in an automobile accident. I cannot conceive the loss a parent feels when their child dies, at any age, for any reason. I also, have never understood war, in any capacity, I mean I get it, but I don’t. I don’t understand why we have to send our troops over to fight other countries battles and I may never get that concept as long as I live, I just know that there are men and woman who know or feel like, their sole purpose in life is to defend our freedoms. I do not understand wanting to do that, but I respect and deeply appreciate it. And I wonder, if when they do go “over there,” are they expecting to come home or do they go every single time scared to death never really knowing that answer? I mean, I expect they expect they are going to be returned safely? Or is it just like being here? Every day, we go through our routines and we do this and we do that and we EXPECT that all will be right in the world and everything we will be status quo, until one day, it just isn’t.
A friend of mine lost his son yesterday in Afghanistan. He was a fairly newly married young man with two little children. He was simply doing his job, which per the CNN news article was assisting and training Afghan security services, when a gunman opened fire and took his life. Just like that, his very short life was extinguished for reasons we will never understand. And I know that anyone that goes over there understands the magnitude of being there. It is not safe. Hell it is not safe in very many places over here anymore either. I am positive his wife and family EXPECTED he would come home safely. I did not know him personally, but what I do know is that he was serving his country and proudly. My heart goes out to his family, friends, children, and his company he was serving with over there, all of them. Another loss I will never comprehend in my lifetime.
What I do understand is how I am connecting this with my own loss. Not one single solitary second is promised to us. Not one. We are all on borrowed time. And I have no earthly clue how long my time is but after my own personal loss, I realized I needed to make every single day count. Am I perfect at this? Not one bit, but I do try. I do try to live for the moment, seize the day, wake up in a good place and leave a little piece of happiness in the places I do touch. My job is following art supplies after they get ordered, from overseas to the warehouse. And making sure they get out the door. I do nothing fancy or noteworthy, and I certainly do not protect our country. My hope though is that I can touch some lives here and there and hope I do so in a way that makes people remember me and do so in a good way.
I cannot comprehend what is happening right now for the this family and I cannot conceive of their loss, but it served as a reminder to myself that we have no idea what tomorrow brings. Are we doing what we want to do? Are we proud of it? Did we tell everyone we love that we loved them today? Did I see the places and things I wanted to see? Taste the tastes, feel the feels, and smell the smells? We get so caught up going through the motions that we forget to live. Truly live. And I don’t want to forget and become complacent, I want to lay my head down at the end of the day and know in my heart I am at a great place with my life.
I hate that one person’s tragedy has to wake me up, and remind me to live. We shouldn’t need tragedies to remind us, we should just do it. Live each day like it’s your last. It isn’t always feasible, but damnit I have to try. And I have to try harder. Carpe Diem.