I am writing this while traveling on a Delta flight from Los Angeles to NYC and have to admit that I’m still slightly traumatized from my experience traveling last week. I had some intense series of events that I know I will never forget. To be specific, it was 36 hours of the most chaotic, sleepless adventure to date with consecutive unknowns, numerous re-routings, exhaustive re-assignments of gates while lugging and running, and caring for two physically sick co-travelers who needed pepto, alka, advil, excedrin, benadryl, a medic, several vomit bags and a lap to sleep on. Nevertheless, these countless detours never diminished our persistence and determination for the sole purpose of the trip – paying tribute to a special person who was lost much too soon.
With every turn and expectation shattered, I had to find a way to help me manage because I knew my role in this intense situation was to be the action-taking supportive and loving observer who was there to make sure that my partner, Eric and his daughter, Laila, arrived safely to the funeral that will forever impact their lives. It might seem like an oxymoron that I say an action-taking observer, but I didn’t personally have a relationship with the deceased, although I do with the rest of the family. Reminding myself that “It’s all in God’s grace.” helped me stay centered and be the rock my family needed at this difficult time.
The news of his death was filled with speechless surprise, questioning anger, confusing grief and more silent awe, which made our already turbulent trip seem like an endless emotional pilgrimage. Death opens up a lot of questions for people and often brings about regrets. Regrets about words unsaid and actions left undone. I do regret not having had created a personal relationship with the deceased but as things have it, it never happened. I try not to dwell on what could have been or should have been knowing that ultimately, “it’s all in God’s grace”.
One of my approaches to life is mourning people while they are still alive. I know this sounds morbid, but there are no assurances that we will all live tomorrow. We don’t know when our last breaths will be. Carrying this constant underlying awareness of the impermanence of life is, helps me process the loss more rationally and less emotionally when it happens. It doesn’t make it less painful, but it helps me move through the pain more quickly as I had already been aware of its possibility. Because of this perspective, I live more fully and feel more connected to those around me. I choose to have my interactions be more based on a loving and harmonious experience rather than one of inner conflict and struggle because I don’t know if this might be my last time with them. I wouldn’t want that to be our final moments together. It reminds me to embrace every interaction to the fullest in order to connect with compassion, acceptance, tolerance, patience, love, understanding, forgiveness and openness instead of the opposite, which is what we tend to carry all too often. Remembering this impermanence – whether good or bad – and taking action accordingly in order to make a conscious effort is all we can do, because in the end, it is ultimately all in God’s grace.