Last week I was sitting with my dad for the funeral mass of his very good friend. This was the second time in a short span my dad had to bury a friend, and for as tough as my dad can be I know his heart is broken. I know that as he faces his own battle against cancer his own mortality must weigh on him. This was one of his closest friends, one whom he started a life with in this country, raised his family alongside, and shared many espressos with. I wish I could have taken the pain away from him, but all I could do was hold his hand in silence and hope that he knew how much he means to me and that losing him is one of my greatest fears in life. The tears fell down too easily that day as I cried for the family in the front row that had to say goodbye. I could feel their grief and it pained me. I never want to have to sit in that front row of this very church, as inevitable as that might be.
Death brings with it such a blow to the heart that we are often filled with the guilt and regret of the should have, could have, and would have. It reminded me once again to not hesitate to tell someone how much you love them, how sorry you are, or how much they make you smile. Tell them. Now.
Seeing the pain in the eyes of his wife following the procession also did me in. Death has that powerful way of showing us just how much we love. It also made me think how much our eyes can never hide our true feelings. We all need to look at each other a lot more and our phones a lot less.
As I leaned into my mom’s shoulder for comfort, I hoped that my own kids would always feel that kind of peace when they lean into me in their lives. My mom and so many women I admire have the strength to keep everyone around them together when the world falls apart.
I felt grateful for my siblings. My sister and I didn’t need any words between us to know we both hold the same fear and love for our own dad. I found solace in knowing my brothers would always look out for us. It’s an indescribable connection…it’s where I come from. My family is not a lovey-dovey bunch, but there is one thing I can always count on in my life. They will always show up. Everytime…no matter what, they show up.
It made me think of my own friends, how much I appreciate them and all that we have seen each other through in life up until now. I am lucky to have them for the highs and lows. They have been there to cheer me on, and they have been there to glue me back together. Life without them would be a much harder road. Always make time for the true ones.
Death always makes the world stop for a bit to remind you that what we have is not guaranteed for any of us…and that life can switch directions on us at any given point. One of life’s greatest challenges is learning the delicate balance of how to hold on and when to let go.
I know there will never be enough hugs, life moments, or soccer games with my dad that will make life without him easier. But when that time comes I hope that he knows his love has always been more than enough and of that I will never let go…