Death Before Spring
I usually love the Spring! The spring season for me has always been associated with rebirth. In addition to Easter being one of my favorite holidays, life happens outdoors again. I look forward to heading down to Madison Square Park to take in the awesome sight of trees growing back their leaves, birds chirping it up, and tulip buds opening up their tender petals.
This Spring feels different. The pandemic is waning away and life is returning in the form of incessant outdoor dining and small group gatherings. But I’m not in my usual cheerful pastel pink, green, yellow, and blue frame of mind. That’s because what’s happening out in the gardens and parks is a far cry for what I’m dealing with inside – the recent loss of a dear friend and former college roommate.
To lose anyone at any age is naturally difficult. To lose someone who is your own age, when your age is 30+ years below the average life span is hell. It’s like being emotionally sucker punched- painful and unexpected. First, you’re confused, then you’re in denial that you weren’t prepared and then you’re angry like it’s nobody’s business.
What hit me in the face during this April is that in order for rebirth to happen, as it naturally does, something else dies first. Trees shed their leaves before winter to look like barren wooden skeletons before showing their vibrant green hues in the spring. A hotel project that you’ve spent the last 18 months on, ultimately has a finish date long before the next, big, exciting new project. The relationship that defined much of your adulthood comes grinding to a halt, without a replacement.
The way to cope with this reality of life is to passionately acknowledge death. And by acknowledging death, I mean celebrating life. Too often, we associate death with the color black, and moods of moroseness, sorrow, and the pain of loss. While we each need to deal with things on our own terms, we can choose a different reaction than allowing sadness to linger. Instead, we can live each day as if it was our last or the last day of the people in our lives that we love. This poem by Jeff Foster reminded me, “Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality with open eyes and no longer turning away.”
And so with a heavy heart, I realize that each breath and moment is precious. The Spring rebirth that I need in my heart will eventually come and overwhelm me with joy but until then, I will continue to heal by sharing memories and cherishing the 24 years of friendship of my late friend.
“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4