It's Derby week here in the Ville, which means minimal work will be accomplished and things around the city will be spiffed up. This year, for me, this is a week of remembrance. A year ago this week my Dad was living his last week on earth. What we thought was a drop in blood pressure and medicine that needed regulating was really just his heart slowly giving up. He passed from this life to the next on May 4...Derby Day last year.
I can hardly fathom that it has been a year since he passed. I can relive almost every day from the moment he went in to the hospital the very first time in this round of three visits. I vividly remember driving home late that night of April 11 and pouring my heart out to God to prepare me to let him go if it was time. No one knew that. Just me and God. His diagnosis wasn't ever such that the doctors said "this is it" but I just had a moving in my heart that this could be the end of his life here. And God knew. And God ever so graciously prepared me.
Losing my Mom almost 14 years ago, I'd been down the road of losing a parent before, which can be good and bad. The good is I knew the drill. The bad is I knew that over time, memories fade and you cling to them so tightly your knuckles get white because you never want to forget the two people who worked hard to bring you into this world.
Nine months after my Dad passed, my Stepmom passed. She had been in poorer health than my Dad when he passed, even being in rehab herself during most of his stays in the hospital. I knew she wouldn't last years after he passed, but I didn't think she would go quite that fast. But she did. And so another loss in this year. She and my Dad spent every moment together and he took great care of her. Slowly, I think, she just missed her partner and was tired of the fight.
I've experienced a lot of loss in my life, and even early in my years. I knew way too much about the funeral business as a small child. My Dad did a lot of Masonic funerals and many a night I was at one of the funeral homes in town for some unknown man's service. But I've lost many love ones - my parents, my Uncle (at 40), Aunts, Uncles, cousins, the only grandparents I knew, dear friends - and know how the pain of loss feels. I've also lost in other ways - relationships, jobs - and know that loss comes in various forms.
When is loss a gain? This is a question I'm reflecting on this week. I may have lost a lot in my life, but I have gained so much. I have friends that are like family and support me. Because my Dad remarried, I have an extended "family" that looks out for me. Through all the job losses I have, I'm doing what I love and even though some days are very long and rough, I have an amazing team to work with. I could go on.
The greatest loss is for me to die to self. This is daily and I'm far from perfecting it yet. When I live in the center of God's Will, and lose my life, I gain so much more. You see, my plans would be very self-focused and selfish. Full of what I thought I needed. God's Plans are so much better. My sinful nature has to be reminded of that daily (hourly on some days) when I lament over what I've lost. I know that my Mom, my Dad and my Stepmom lost their life, but they have gained Eternity. If they could talk to me right now they would never want to come back. I look forward to the day when I see them again and the loss that I gain will become sight.