“Life is Short”
I say this often, mostly to myself, but I’m not sure if I’m living it in the right context.
This saying first came about for me, cementing itself into my world when my brother passed away from cancer. I was around the age of 24 with two children, a third on the way and in a complicated marriage. I don’t remember being particularly mature for my age even with 2-point-5 children and a marriage under my belt. I was still making bad decisions and still very unhappy within myself for many different reasons.
When my brother died of cancer I was shattered. I was full of grief but also full of guilt and regret. Why hadn’t I told him I loved him? Why didn’t I spend more time with him? Why didn’t I realise how short life was. Especially once it’s up. Once it’s up that’s it. There’s no more of that person in your life. No more chances to say “I love you”. To hug them. To tell them who they are to you. I regretted not telling my brother I loved him for a long time. I know now that I was scared to tell him because I thought if I did then it would be an admission that things weren’t good. That he wasn’t going to make it. I honestly believed he would just jump out of bed one day and yell “Just joking! I’m all good! Tricked you all!”
I was wrong.
Recently, in November 2015 my Pop became ill. I made a pact with myself to spend as much time with him as possible. I didn’t want him to feel alone. I wanted him to feel safe in the last few weeks/days of his life here on Earth. I told him I loved him. I said goodbye. I was there as he passed. I have no regrets.
7 weeks later as my Nana quickly deteriorated. I made sure I stroked her hair, held her hand, put my hand on her heart to immerse its beating in my own and looked her in the eyes when telling her I loved her. I loved that she still managed to say it back to me, I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget the sparkle in her eyes. She wasn’t scared. I hadn’t frightened her with my words. She just felt loved. A few days later she passed away too. My heart broke but I have no regrets – she knew I loved her.
Then only a few weeks later we lost our neighbour to cancer. Our neighbourhood isn’t just a regular neighbourhood we are all close and his loss is deafening. When I’m hanging out my washing or playing with my kids he is no longer in his backyard talking to his “girls” (his chickens) or fluffing about in the garden. He is no longer climbing over the fence to have a beer with my parents. He is no longer on the other end of the computer two doors up asking me for help on some internet issues always with his bad grammar and no use of capitals. I was going to see him the night before he died but he was already in bed so I didn’t. He was gone from this life the next day. On my daughters 18th birthday. I told him in one of our last Facebook messages that I loved him. No regrets.
I started writing this blog a few days ago but I was struggling to find the words. Then I’ve been hit today, like a slap of pin-pricked realities in the face, by two friends. One on a fucked up cancer journey and the other just about to have her 11th wedding anniversary except without her husband by her earthly side as he died 5 years ago. Both of their status’s to the world were different and unique to them but both of them had the same underlining content. Gratitude.
BE FUCKING GRATEFUL PEOPLE.
Grateful you have a partner to annoy you and leave his socks at the front door. Grateful that you have a headache you can fix with a glass of water and some panadol. Grateful that even though the kids are driving you crazy and the clean house is now a mess that you have healthy, active kids who love your love and presence… And fuck the house. This gratitude doesn’t mean guilt either. It doesn’t mean you should feel guilty for being frustrated or pissed off at these things from time to time. This is life and this is living after all but we should be grateful more of the time than we are pissed.
“Life is Short” can be summarised just with this one word. Gratitude. Being grateful. Being thankful. Looking for the good in what you have in your life and being thankful for it. Showing those you love in your life that you actually do love them. That they are your living, breathing world. Life is short because once it’s over it’s over. There are no second chances. But there can be regrets, which will for some turn into lessons. I spent 10 years regretting my brothers passing – regretting the lack of love I showed him. But I learnt from that never to do it again.
“Life is Short” has a new meaning for me today because when I first adopted the popular quote into my life I did so in a negative way but today it means gratitude. Happiness. Laughter. Love. Presence. It means saying it and feeling it and not being scared of it. It means showing my kids more presence and honesty. It means listening to my husband and learning more about him and what he needs. It’s about being there for people who need a part of me that I am capable of giving – love translated in any way, shape or form. I’m not perfect and I’m not going to ride the perfect bandwagon from here on in but I am going to give more of myself. More of the ‘me’ that is truly me. The heartfelt, sensitive me who loves deeply but has always carried a barrier for protection.
My protection is removed but perfection is not my status either.
To my family and my friends – I LOVE YOU! To all the people who have come into my life in a positive way, I love each and every one of you. You have touched me. You have honoured who I am. You have left an imprint on my life and in my heart and I am forever grateful for that. I love you. I really, really do.
My heart hurts today and my tears are flowing. Sadness? Still some regret? Missing those I love? Guilt? I’m not sure. Maybe just a heartache.
Please don’t forget to tell those you love just how much they mean to you. Show them. This is the message my friend wants you to hear. To really hear. The message we all need to hear. Often.