Life and Death. Love and Loss.

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. -- Isak Dinesen

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. — Isak Dinesen

A few weeks ago, I learned that one of my friends lost her partner of twenty two years in a tragic accident. This really threw me for a loop. My husband and I have been married for twenty two years, and I spent the next few days wondering what I’d do if I was suddenly facing the rest of my life without him. I mean, I know I complain about things like his failure to replace toilet paper rolls, and his tendency to do absent-minded things like leave the freezer open with a frozen turkey sitting on the floor next to it… but these are small things, really. He is always there for the big things… like when he took an entire day off work to help me with formatting my last manuscript and inserting all of the art and computer graphics.

So I made a decision to deliberately be more appreciative and more positive about life and about the people I love. It isn’t exactly easy to continuously monitor and adjust your attitude, but I am working on it. I wish I could say that I have always been such a wonderful, appreciative, person that my efforts have gone unnoticed. But they haven’t. A few days ago, my husband mentioned the change. This is a good thing, because it means that my more positive attitude is working, but also a bad thing, when I think back on all of the time I’ve wasted being negative about things that don’t really matter.

This past weekend, I went home to Camden, SC to help celebrate my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary.  Fifty years with the same person! That is almost impossible to imagine. And yet, there it is.  We had a great time getting together with wonderful people.  Their children and grandchildren were all there, as well as their siblings and dozens of friends.  I left the event feeling extremely lucky for what I have. It was easy to be positive in the wake of such a party!

Then yesterday I got the call that my cousin, her husband, and her two children were on the plane that crashed in Alaska.  If you have followed any of the news stories, you know that there were no survivors.  The loss of an entire branch of our family is staggering. It is all I can think about. Though I haven’t seen Stacey in a few years, I always assumed I’d see her again. I had pictures of our great grandparents that she wanted, and I intended to give her.  I kept her address on hand in case I ever get back into the groove of sending out cards. Of course, none of this matters now. But how I wish I’d shown appreciation for that relationship when I could have.

Will this devastating news change my determination to be positive?  For the moment… yes.  I’m honestly having a hard time appreciating anything today.

At the same time, a tragedy like this is a reminder that we never know how long we’ll have the people we love with us – our cousins, our parents, our children, our friends, our spouses. A tragedy like this reminds us that we need to appreciate each moment.  A tragedy like this reminds us that we need to appreciate each other.

I’ll be back with more positive thoughts on writing and life soon.  But today, well, you’ve already read about how I feel today. For that, I thank you!