pray. - Death and Birth

Over the past two months, four friends have lost their father. Steve was one of them, and I admired him both as a husband and dad. His youngest daughter is one of my best friends; on my wedding day, she sang as I walked down the aisle. Allie and her family have impacted my life tremendously with their family values and fun loving spirits. I pray when I have a family of my own that our values bond us together the way Allie's family has bonded together. 

Anyway, on a Tuesday afternoon, I was coaching a group of young ladies at Girls on the Run. I had missed a call and saw a text message from my friend's cousin saying there had been a family emergency. Immediately and frantically, I returned her call. All I could think was something had happened to Allie. When I heard the news, I was relieved (because my friend was safe and alive) and heartbroken, because Allie had lost the most important man in her life, her daddy. But, not only had she lost him, the world lost a genuine soul. Everyone's personal, little world was a better place because Steve was in it. 

I tell the story of Steve's passing because it propelled my mind into this morbid realm of thoughts about death which turned into thoughts about growing up and getting older which turned into thoughts about my life and the ones I love which turned into thoughts of absurd rejection. Self pity and depression can be a dangerous combination. The combo causes absurd thoughts. It causes the heart to suffer deep pain. This fusion is one of dangerous proportions, and it can be very difficult to break.

You see, growing up, I experienced a lot of death. My great grandfather passed when I was 5 or 6. My father was murdered when I was 7. My "step" grandfather and grandfather passed when I was 11ish or 12. My brother passed when I was 13. My great uncle, great grandmother, and nephew passed somewhere between all of that. And, my oldest sister died when I was around 22 or 23. And, these are just the deaths of those related to me. It doesn't include my high school friend whose boyfriend committed suicide when we were 14, or the death of a close high school friend who died in her mid 20s, or the passing of an ex-boyfriend, whom remained a friend. 

At one point in my life, this absurdity crossed my mind, "Am I the Grim Reaper?" Silly, yes. But, it's true. In my late teens and early 20s, I planned out a way to take care of my little sisters if my mom were to leave this Earth. I had even planned to take my step-dad to court, in order to battle for full custody of my sisters, because I knew he wasn't equipped to raise them. Often, I thought about my own death and  the arrangements I'd want my family to make. Coming home from Steve's funeral, my husband and I discussed arrangements we'd prefer, if one of us should pass. The reality is simple. We are never guaranteed our next breath. It's a morbid and frightening truth. 

Losing a human being special to you is difficult. There really are no words to describe the feeling of hurt your heart goes through. But, let's face it, death happens around us everyday in many different ways. Plants die. Pets die. Friendships die. Relationships with family die. Romantic relationships die. Interests and hobbies die. Parts of our personality die (sometimes for the best). Thoughts die. Desires die. Dreams die. Hope dies.

Though death puts me in a dark spot and causes internal suffering, there is so much beauty in the rebirth of life. 

Plants bloom again in the spring and are more vibrant than ever. Pets leave an everlasting imprint on our hearts that make us better human beings. New friendships and relationships are born just when they are needed. New passion for hobbies and life develop more deeply as we get to know ourselves better. Our stronger, more positive, more suitable personality shines brighter after a storm. Thoughts mature into new desires, dreams, and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

As I reflect on my losses, I see all the growing those losses produced. I am ME because of my past. I am stronger and wiser. I am motivated and determined to live a life full of life. I strive to take the paths that lead to a better quality life, therefore, allowing me to spread more life to others. 

Throughout life, we will come to many crossroads. We will have to choose a path. Often, the best choice will be the most difficult one to make. It will mean the death of something old and the birth of something new. On the road between old and new, there will be bruises, blisters, broken hearts and spirits. But, you were made resilient. You were made to persevere. You were made to be courageous. You were made to break the rules for what's right. You were made to stand tall and strong. You were made to laugh and spread love and joy. You were made of all these monumental goods, because you were made by God's love. Life is worth celebrating in death and in birth.


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