Today is October 25, 2010. Last year on this day I experienced the first real loss of my life…the death of one of my best friends. It was a loss that came out of no where and taught me a lesson in uncertainty. There are deaths that you prepare yourself for (or at least as much as your imagination will allow you to prepare). In adulthood, as your parents and grandparents age, you watch their health carefully and become more aware of their mortality. When people you love get serious illnesses (such as cancer), as much as you want them to overcome, you realistically know anything could happen. BUT you never expect that a young mother could deliver her twin babies on a Friday and die unexpectedly on Sunday. Amy was the picture of health, finally embarking on the journey of motherhood she’d longed for. I had plans for Amy… so many of us had plans for her.
This weekend, I was reading the book “Embracing Uncertainty” by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. Amy was on my mind as I started the chapter called “Embracing the Learning.” In the chapter she talks about how everything is a learning experience and the key is to remember this fact during the bad times and the good times. She included an exercise where you make a statement and follow it with the phrase “I can learn from this.” She gave these first two vague examples:
“I lost my job…………I can learn from this.”
“I lost my relationship……………I can learn from this.”
The next example she gave was this:
“My best friend died……………I can learn from this.”
That last example was so specific that it felt like it was just for me. I’d randomly picked this book off the shelf at the library and just happened to have started reading it the weekend of the anniversary of Amy’s death.
So what have I learned from my best friend’s death?
I learned that there are no guarantees in life and just because you make plans doesn’t mean they will come to fruition. You have to let go of expectations because clinging to them only causes suffering. I learned that my husband is the best thing that ever happened to me and I want to spend as much time as I am given making sure he knows that. I was reminded that experiences are better than stuff. The memories I have of the fun and love-filled times with Amy mean so much more to me than anything I could have (whether related to Amy or not). I learned that I want to live life to the fullest because again there are no guarantees.
As I make the list of things that I learned I realize that time has shifted my energy. The only thing good about experiencing such a shattered heart is that it has to remain open for a time. When your heart is open, you feel more and can really live those lessons. They permeate you (or can if you let them). But over time the wound closes and you don’t always remember what you knew in the fragile moments. Although I often think of how amazing and important my husband is, I don’t tell him nearly enough. I’ve gone back to making plans and hoping, praying, clinging to outcomes. Over the past months I’ve thought about the future far too often, instead of being present and full.
So on this anniversary, I will spend the day living fully, experiencing life, and possibly making memories to cherish. I will tell my husband and my daughters how much I love them now. I will wonder about our future but I will also embrace the uncertainty of it all.