The Right Amount of Open


I have been noticeably absent from blogging lately. I think most people assume this is because of David’s death. That is only partially true. The other part is that blogging is, by nature, very public. That isn’t a problem for me as I am pretty much an open book anyway. It might be a problem for other people in my life, though, so I took a step back to make sure that what I share doesn’t impact anyone adversely. That, in itself, is a matter of opinion, I guess, but I want to make sure that I am only putting words out there with the best of intentions, and sometimes that is hard when you are grieving.

We must, each of us, grieve alone. I have support. Tons of it. But no one can go through the grieving process for me. At best, they are there to help me up when I stumble. Cry with me as we remember. Work with me to try to keep others from facing this fate. It helps. Those words, those gestures, those hugs… they all help me put one foot in front of the other.

I know that is a special gift and that not everyone has that kind of support. In some families, it is not ok to show grief or weakness. When someone dies, you are supposed to move on. Act like they never existed or that it is not a big deal that they are gone.

I’m thankful that I have people around me who loved David, and with whom I can talk about him. Sometimes it’s sad, but it’s mostly happy. Because that’s how David would want us to remember him. He was all of the best things that I learned from my family.

A few of those lessons need to be shared:

1. Love everybody. My grandmother turned 94 today, and she was always a great example of this when I was a kid. She told me that you never know what another person is going through, or what landed them in their situation, but you should help everyone you can. She had obviously thought about it enough to teach it to me, but David was just born with this innate knowledge that everyone deserved love.

2. You only get one family. People find all sorts of excuses not to like each other, but you really do only get one family. They know your history. They know that crazy family story. They remember your grandparents. And if you are lucky, and they are doing their jobs right, there is unconditional love. I love my family. Every last one of them. Even when they hurt each other… or me… or themselves. And I know that most of them feel the same way about me. Even more amazing, that love extends to my kids and my spouse, even though we have never resided in the same state.

I used to tell people that I never worried about my car breaking down or other such minor “emergencies” because I knew if I couldn’t get my dad or my brother on the phone, there was any number of uncles or cousins that would come help me out. They never told me this, and I don’t think I ever had need to test it, but the feeling was there. Like a security blanket that you can carry throughout your life. It makes you bold. You can take chances. You can screw up. Because somebody will be there to help you up again if you fall.

3. Don’t let somebody else’s mood bring you down. Otherwise known as live and let live. This was something David embraced in the last months of his life. There were some people he loved who weren’t always happy with their circumstances. When he was younger, he would always try to make them happy, but at some point, he realized that he couldn’t. They wouldn’t let him. So he just chose to be happy anyway, and not let their mood bring him down.

When my kids were preteens, one of the things I told them was I wanted them to grow up to be people I would want to have as friends. I wanted them to choose right over wrong. I wanted them to be genuinely happy, caring, responsible people.

I guess one of the reasons that losing David is so hard is because he HAD become that person I wanted to be friends with. A friend of his recently told me that a lot of the qualities they appreciated in David were also present in my personality. What a compliment! I, too, see David in many of his friends. I think he’d be happy about that.