I drove a little slower to work this morning. I watched the sunrise a little bit longer, watched how the orange light pushed the shadows across the fields. The color of the sun was vividly orange, an October sun, cutting up through a cold periwinkle sky smeared with watercolored streaks of magenta and lavender.
Sometime between the dark solitude of the midnight hour and this magnificent dawn, a man I had known all my life left us. I lingered in the dawn because his memory was burned there, across that splendid horizon, where the line grows faint between the reality of this world and the next.
My grandpa was wonderful man who certainly lived a rich life. He was a preacher for years in the Church of Christ. He served his country in World War II. He loved to build birdhouses in his wood shop and to fish in the pacific bay. But these things aren’t what I always found most memorable about him. It was the way he loved my grandma that impressed me the most.
I wish I could have known him better. But I think we always say that when a loved one has passed. I wish…I wish…I wish…
I wish we had more time.
This has been a season of sadness for our family. A season of passing. An October season.
Both of my parents died unexpectedly in July. Just a few weeks ago my wife’s grandma passed away. We have certainly had our share of grief lately. What have I learned through it all?
I’ve learned to linger a little while in the moments that most of us willingly let slip away. I’ve learned that there are never enough words that can be spoken to express the way we truly feel about the loved ones in our life. Why don’t we say those words? I’ve learned that to let opportunities we have to spend time with family pass by will certainly lead to regret when they are gone. You can’t outrun regret, and you can’t bury it in the ground.
Why are we so busy? Why do we let stupid things get in the way of what really matters? People should matter. The people we love; our parents, our grandparents, our spouses and children.
I’m not trying to be dramatic. But the older I get the simpler life becomes. It’s not about the things we chase. It’s about the people in our lives that make us richer, stronger, better. And we in turn have the opportunity to make those people great. It’s the substance of a man’s relationships that truly make him great.
There’s nothing more toxic than unspoken words. Lost moments. Wasted time. And I wish I had learned this lesson much sooner.
I’ve spent so much of my life chasing after things that don’t matter. In the last couple years I’ve lost both parents, my grandpa, my father in law and my wife’s grandmother, and I would give away all the things I gained during those years I spent chasing other things just to have that time back with them.
So don’t waste those moments. That’s what I’m clinging to right now. Forgive more and begrudge less. Visit your grandparents more. Take your mom out to breakfast more. Take the time to call instead of messaging on Facebook or sending a text.
Because it’s a lonely world when those people you love most are gone. All you have left are the memories. It’s the time you’ve spent with them that will rise with you each morning. They make the hard times a little easier. They brighten your day.
Just like the sun this morning.