“Ahhh!” As I breathed in the clean, cool Grand Bahama air on a Sunday afternoon in September, I instantly began to feel more at ease. During the days leading up to the funeral, we mourned the loss of my grandfather: a great man of joy, harsh truths and hard work. Grandpa will have you welding in the rain, protective gear and all; anything to get the job done!
As I stared out of the rain-stained window, betwixt the coconut trees, I took a long, deep breath and exhaled. Eyes closed, chest lifted and mind cleared in seconds. Memories of my grandfather flashed in my mind; fading in and out. When we laid him to rest the day before it was indeed a heartfelt loss. His funeral was short and fitting, with a harmonious music and fond memories.
I found myself lost in thought; reflecting, rethinking and analyzing the steps that led me to this point in my life. Was I following my passion? Have I made my mark on the world? Am I presenting my best self? Will I be remembered for the kindness of my heart and the thoughtfulness of my actions?
A loss often puts life in perspective. When a family member has passed, we lose a piece of ourselves and no matter how minute that may be, sadness and possible detachment are felt. At times this may cause people to feel gratitude, inspiration, the reality of life's shortness or its fragility.
Although I felt the heaviness of his absence, it did encourage me to make my life momentous and to be remembered as my true self; to share myself in all facets, with the world. It was a reminder that we are all on a journey in life, one that ultimately comes to an end. We may not be able to choose that ending or even our beginning, but we do have power over the middle. Unlike the other stages, the middle doesn’t offer the excitement of new beginnings or the joy we sometimes find in endings. The middle is full of reality checkpoints where we realise the journey we had envisioned is unlike the journey we’ve actually experienced. As I reflected, I learnt a few life lessons. Here's how to better understand the middle stage of your journey:
Be passionate NOW! - No matter how old or experienced you are, passion is instinctive in us and shines through when we act on what is natural to us. If it's public speaking, carpentry, singing, writing, art, photography, cooking: just do it. Your life will thank you.
Losing a loved one doesn't mean letting go - It means you've suffered a loss and now have the memories to hold dear. This doesn’t signify your end nor does it mean your life should be on indefinite hold. It isn't easy, it takes time, you may feel detached from the world and it will be emotional; but remember that these are normal. Healing is normal.
Be remembered for the true you and not who you're expected to be - My grandfather was jovial, selective and made nor took any excuses when it came to working and providing. He was small in stature but strong and wise in character. He will be remembered for these things, but mostly for his heart. He was kind and mentored those whom he saw potential in. Through welding, he taught others and changed lives.
Life is Fragile - My grandfather was preparing for recovery and family members were preparing to provide as much comfort and assistance as possible. We were hopeful. As with life, no one knows tomorrow and we did not have a chance to spend more time with him. Knowing this: be wise, live in today, make the decisions that leave your minds at ease. Time moves silently and quickly, ensure that it doesn't leave you.
My grandfather had a strong character and was remembered quite fondly by his church family and those whose lives he had changed and inspired. He left big footprints to follow and truly no one can walk in his shadow. The best part is he wouldn't want any of his relatives in his shadow, but more so paving their own path and adding value to their lives and the lives of others along the way.
Mark 13:32-33New Living Translation (NLT)
32 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 33 And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!”
What life moment has had you rethink your perspective on life? What life lessons have you learnt lately? How will you take charge of your middle stage to find your happy ending?