This photo was taken of my mom, my younger sister, and me. I don’t remember the occasion – probably at this time of year a graduation, but when I saw it in my Facebook memories the other day it took me aback.
It was 7 years ago, so was June 15, 2015, give or take a day. I think it was the graduation of one of my nieces.
So much has happened since then.
- We lost my dad to surgical complications. He had the left lobe of his lung removed due to lung cancer. He came out of that surgery great, asking for food almost immediately, as he was prone to do. The nurse finally, warily, let my mom feed him some vanilla ice cream. It was one of his favorite foods.We felt as though he was on the mend, so I took my mom home to get some sleep. I decided to stay with her that night. Around 1 a.m. we got the news, they had taken Dad back to surgery due to internal bleeding. That began 6 weeks of horrible, before we finally transferred my Dad home to Hospice. He died there the second night after we took him there.
- My great-nephew died by suicide.
- My nephew died on a fentanyl overdose.
- We lost two of my dad’s brothers and two aunts (one married to one of these brothers and one who had been married to an uncle who died years previously.)
- My mom went into a deep depression after Dad’s death and has since been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I can only describe it by saying the woman who lives in her body may recognize me and still calls me by name, but understands little else in her life. She lives in a world we can’t see. She has lives in a memory care unit for a little over a year.
Our lives have changed so much. Oh there are also joys – precious babies born, for one – but there is so much more emotional weariness.
I think about something my cousin said after his dad died. As I hugged him he said “It’s the cycle of life, Kim.”
It still comforts me, even if sometimes I don’t like that cycle.
But we have great memories. I look at that picture, when the tragedies in our lives were minimal. So much has changed.
Live life with those you love. These moments are precious.
Take pictures. And videos. They will make you smile and remember, even if some days they remind you of the melancholy.
And when life changes, as it will, know both joys and tragedies will greet you. A full life, a life connected with people, is a roller coaster.
One thing about loss. It only steals our joy if we allow it to. I chose to look at this picture and smile. Gee, I love these people and we have shared so much good.