The house is silent except for the gentle clicking of the grandfather clock and the soft hum of the computer.Â Photos of Ronnie are strewn around the table and I’m supposed to be working.Â I am struggling to focus.
Never have I felt as alone as I did when I sat with my parents in the funeral home, providing information for Ronnie’s death certificate and making plans for his cremation.Â It seemed to be such an intimate moment, and I couldn’t help but think of the parallels between Ronnie’s birth and his death…so much formality:Â “What is his full name?Â Where was he born?Â What is the father’s full name?Â What is the mother’s maiden name?Â What is his social security number?”Â Almost 36 years ago, my parents filled out paperwork for his birth, and it was unbelievable to us that we were making plans for his funeral.
I looked around at the various decorations advertised for coffin enhancements:Â a garden shovel and flower with the words “Mom”, a fish and bait set with the words “Dad”…it felt so commercialized…then my dad spoke the words we were all thinking:Â “This is unbearable.”Â All I could think of was “how does anyone ever get through this pain?Â How do we continue with our lives?Â How can I possibly live through the death of all those I love?Â How will I ever, ever feel happy again?”Â I realized thatÂ ultimately, each of us is completely alone and the thought terrified me.
I suppose the terrible pain of death is the price we pay for loving so intensely.Â Although you are rewarded in life with moments of incredible joy and unforgettable memories, the death of someone you love rips out a piece of you and somehow you are expected to move on.Â I was so angry at the medical personnel in the hospital whose lives were unchanged by Ronnie’s death.Â How could they sit at their computer and do their work as though the world hadn’t forever altered?Â How could they joke with each other when they were surrounded by illness?Â I tried to stop myself from these strong feelings of disgust, but I accept it now as part of my mourning.
I will be jealous of those who laugh easily, and I will be angry with God for dealing my family more than what I believe is our fair share of heartache…not that there is a fair share.Â I understand that in my mind, but my heart will never comprehend.Â I am incredibly grateful for the many wonderful memories I have, but the tragedy of his loss dulls my appreciation for life’s beauty and happiness.
I found this quote somehow helpful in creating perspective about life and loss:
“Why be saddled with this thing called life expectancy? Of what relevance to an individual is such a statistic? Am I to concern myself with an allotment of days I never had and was never promised? Must I check off each day of my life as if I am subtracting from this imaginary hoard? No, on the contrary, I will add each day of my life to my treasure of days lived. And with each day, my treasure will grow, not diminish.” ~Robert Brault
I just keep thinking of Ryan Darby, Boy of the Year, who so wisely stated “Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do.Â Even if you don’t want to do it, you have to.”Â My family and I, along with all those who knew and loved Ronnie, do not want to continue our lives without him, but we do not have an option.Â We will live our lives to the fullest in honor of Ronnie, and his memories will always bring comfort.
September 7, 1975-July 25, 2011
I don’t even know how to respond to that, Julie. Thank you for sharing….I can’t even imagine nor want to imagine how hard it was to write that. I LOVE YOU.
I agree with Laurel, this must have been incredibly hard to put into words. I think the quote is really fitting too. Ronnie’s life was far too short, but in his brief years he was fortunate to be surrounded by so much love from you all and to give so much love back to those around him - more than many experience or give in 80 plus years. Like you, his friends the world over will carry on his memory and strive to be half the person he was. Much love to you and your family.