Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars. --Henry Van Dyke
A friend of mine recently lost his father and as we talked about loss, we delved into the topic of trade-offs. It's part of life to enjoy good, happy times for a while. And yet somewhere in the back of our minds, we are conscious of the fact that these moments are fleeting. Part of experiencing life, and love, and a connection to others also requires us to have the ability to let go. It's an odd and scary thing if we think about it too long, so it usually comes to us as a passing thought, and then we send it away.
I used to have a very hard time dealing with the loss of someone. It seemed so unfair to me to have someone we love taken away. Was it really worth it to feel a connection to people? Did it make sense to spend so much of our very brief time on this planet cultivating relationships with others that eventually fall away, for one reason or another.
Many years ago, a friend of mine was dealing with the loss of his grandfather. Knowing how much he loved his grandfather and how close he was to him, I expressed my extreme sympathy for his loss. And without a tear in his eye or a choked up feeling in his throat, he said, "Please don't be sorry. I'm not." I just couldn't understand. How on Earth could he not be sorry?
"I had this amazing person in my life for so many years. I was so lucky to know that kind of love and closeness to someone for so long. He taught me an amazing amount throughout my whole life that I'm able to pass on to others. He was such a gift and I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to have him in my life."
I think about this conversation every time I or someone I care about must deal with losing someone. It's so hard to imagine letting go, and I find that emphasizing the gift of their presence in our lives for however long we have them eases the sadness. It doesn't eliminate the sadness and it doesn't betray the person's memory. It just helps us keep perspective, and we helps us to begin to understand that it is all worth. The cultivation of relationships is what this life we live is all about. They are the very essence of human experience.