A friend pointed out to me today that in numerous religions from varying parts of the world it is believed that after passing the soul exists in a waiting period for exactly 30 days. One full month, waiting, in that space between heaven and earth. Whether or not you believe in heaven isn’t relevant because what I’m getting at isn’t about religion or really about death even. It’s about life. My life and the lives of my children, about my husband, and how we will memorialize the life within his father’s 62 short years with every thought, every word, and every action we make from now on.
Our time here is precious. And when it ends for someone you love all wind is lost; your breath, the breeze, the atmosphere. Space and time implode and never will return to the way you knew them to be just one small moment ago. Days pass, then weeks, and somewhere in-between you realize that the world is still turning, that it has a momentum which will move on with or without you. So you hold on…or you don’t. Some hours are easier than others. Then more are easier than not. You wonder if maybe someday what people say will be true for you too, that your life will return to some semblance of normal – never as it was before – but normal. At least that’s what they say.
And to that I reply…I guess I don’t want things to be normal. Now or ever again. Because what I found in the 30th day after my father-in-law’s passing must be something he wanted me to have. It’s something I’ve been chasing for years, from the moment I became a caffeine driven business owning mother of two, maybe. Something that I ached for and tried to grasp at for years but could never seem to possess for long before letting it slip through my hands. With as much as I strove for, it was the one thing that consistently eluded me until now. And I have him to thank for it.
Last week I canceled two of my son’s extracurricular classes. I didn’t schedule new ones, or fill the time with more “to-do’s”. This means that for the three days in the middle of the week, I am free to bring my boys home from school at 3:10 and spend the entire afternoon with them. No agenda, no plans, no expectations. Just time. Time together. At the risk of revealing my dark underbelly, I will admit that I struggled always just to “be”. In a park, at the beach, and yes, even at home with my children. Multitasking was not just a tool, it was a compulsion. Checking e-mail on my phone, tapping at the keys of my laptop, nose stuffed in a book. With all of the commitment that I had made for my physical body to be present for my children before and after school hours, my mind was oftentimes preoccupied, stuck in a cloud, otherwise engaged.
Until, suddenly, I returned. Present. Intent only upon the seconds that I have been afforded in this day; acknowledging that no touch is more valuable, no word more meaningful than the ones we share this minute. I wish I could identify the switch that’s been flipped or bottle a tonic to cure the human condition I was suffering. I wince to think of the hours of thought and analysis it would have saved me. But I guess that it’s fitting, coming from the girl who needs to feel it herself to know it as truth.
I’m so sorry that it took the loss of a loved one to make me believe in presence, in pace, in peace. But I thank him for a gift and a legacy that will touch the lives of his grandchildren. A gift which I swear to pass onto them, through them.
Rest in Peace, Raymond Edward Perrault. Your legacy is safe with us.