I can tell you exactly where I was standing . . .
and who I was with when I heard that our superman died.
“Impossible” I said.
We are never fully ready to accept the death of our person.
Time is a magician. Even with early warnings that death is near, time suddenly runs out. We are left in the shock that those reading this know only too well.
And then there are those whose “aliveness” denies that their death can be possible. Like Phillip, here, showing us the bottom of his shoes.
Dan and I were in the parking lot of our local supermarket when he got the call that Phillip was dead. I remember words floating through my imagination at the time—“he must have fallen off a cliff” my mind reasoned. How else…?
After all, this was a man I witnessed scaling a 7-foot wall by jumping up, grabbing the top of it with his fingers and then pulling his entire body up to land on the top (after which he reached his arm down and pulled up his teammates). The word dead did not jive with the person of Phillip Hernandez.
Life provides a kindness by not allowing us to see the future in advance.
Having experienced caring for my beloved person through surgeries, illness, and inordinate amounts of pain, the words “Death Sucks” fit.
However, for those whose person stepped out of the room, went down the block, or traveled on bus, train or plane and just never came home—words fail in trying to express that kind of shock when the title widow, or widower, arrives as a earthquake or tsunami.
Today’s anniversary is deeply personal.
When our daughter, Michele, lost Phillip, our family did our best to help by showing up, carrying tasks and duties for her and those precious kiddos, but the one thing we could not do is to know how she felt. To know what she was going through. We did the best we could, but what she found on her own is that widowed people were the secret sauce that helped her through grief.
They knew what she was going through.
The hidden gift of Soaring Spirits is this: Widowed folks such as these find an unexpected map in one another. Different circumstances in their losses or varied ages and life circumstances don’t matter. The underground river of grief is the same.
I know this first-hand after losing my beloved, Michele’s dad, and attended the Soaring Spirits event closest to my home. Meeting with widowers and widows at an informal dinner, where our beloved Priscilla watches that the flow is a positive experience for all, is a comfort and a blessing. Talking about our person and the challenges we navigate in their absence come up informally; kindness abounds.
The real superheroes are the ones left behind.
For all our figuring it all out only to find that logic that fails to fix anything; through the death-anniversaries, birthdays, wedding dates, the date we first met; for the countless reminders in life of our person’s former aliveness and the sober reality of their absence; for the gratitude for all that was and the anger at losing what might have been; for the damn trash cans that still need to be taken out and the taxes that need to be done and the car repairs pending and the countless moments in which having you there just made things better . . . for all this