Tuesday, October 8, 2013
What I Still Believe
Sorry friends, me again!!
Since I am filling in for Amanda today, I thought I'd share with you the remarks I plan to make today at the Ventura County Board of Supervisors meeting. Supervisor Peter Foy has asked me to speak at the beginning of the meeting to summarize why I founded Soaring Spirits, and share the work we do. I love the opportunity to share our mission with a new group of people (another chance to change the way widowhood is viewed by the general public), but rather than just talk about what we do, I think I will share with them why I do it, and also a bit about how becoming widowed changed the way I view my life. It seems to me that death violently shakes our belief system, whether we follow a specific religion, adhere to a certain code of ethics, or don't believe in an afterlife at all, grief asks questions for which there are no answers, and each of us has to find our own way to making peace with the uncertainty that follows the loss of someone we love.
What I share here are the guiding principles that have been filtered through my grief experience. These are the ideas and values that have stood the test of losing the man who was supposed to be my forever. In sharing these thoughts my hope is not to convince anyone to believe what I believe, but rather to encourage those who hear (or read) these words to spend some time thinking about what they value most, and then live their lives accordingly.
So, wish me luck, friends. I should be delivering the remarks below at about the time many of you are reading this blog!
As a young woman entering into adulthood with lofty goals, sterling ideals, and great hope for the future I could have easily created a long list of my personal beliefs. This list would have included ideas about both the tangible and the intangible; broad concepts and specific ideals; God and mortal beings. There would probably even have been a mention of death and eternity...but only in the abstract because my beliefs about death were untested until August 31, 2005.
My husband’s untimely death in a tragic accident turned my personal credo upside down. The day I lost my husband was the same day that theory became reality, and faith became more than just a concept to which I paid lip service. Grief is the ultimate test of faith. Faith requires trust. Death robbed me of the sense of security on which trust is so often based, making the idea of trust incomprehensible. And the whole vicious circle renewed itself daily as I tried in vain to determine why I was living a sorrow filled nightmare. My inability to escape the reality of widowhood forced me to evaluate my idealistic beliefs and determine whether they could withstand the blinding glare of grief.
As the reality of my husband’s death set in, I began to imagine the following personal truths as tall pillars that I view through a cloud of dust and rubble created by a major earthquake. Though everything around these support beams has fallen, they miraculously remain. I rub my eyes to look again, because for any structure to survive an earth shattering experience of this magnitude seems impossible...and yet these columns stand tall amongst the debris of loss and grief.
I believe in everlasting love. I believe that God is not a being who resides in a structure, but a spirit who lives in the hearts, and hands, of loving people. I believe that the length of your life is not an indication of your impact on the world. I believe that time is indeed a gift. I believe that human beings have the power to heal each other. I believe that shared experience can bond individuals in a unique and life changing way. I believe that our lives are a tapestry and each experience, wonderful or terrible, adds richness to the final fabric. I believe that tomorrow is only a dream. I believe that life is too short to hold grudges. I believe that people are inherently good. I believe that buying lemonade from my daughter at her new job is more important than spending an extra hour at my own work. I believe that the people who come into my life do so for a reason. I believe that kindness changes lives. I believe that this too shall pass. I believe that life is a gift, but like all gifts must be opened to be appreciated.
These are a few of the pillars that have survived my personal earth quake. I lean on them when I feel unable to stand. When grief occasionally stirs the dust of sorrow, I look for them to steady my course. My widowhood experience has taught me that when faith requires me to walk forward blindly; those pillars will guide the way.