Aging, Grief, Reflections

Life Itself Is Grace

It has been a season of losses for me at work and personally as each month has brought news of the death of a family member or a member of my library/work family.

August was marked by the memorial service for my Aunt Lydia, who died in May.  September saw the death of a former Library Trustee.  In October we lost my cousin as well as a longtime library volunteer.  The month before that a former Library Trustee.  .

This past weekend we lost one of our long-time library volunteers, someone who celebrated her 80th birthday in August but was still vibrant, engaged, and working at a part-time job that she loved until felled by illness just a few short weeks ago.   Someone I considered a friend.

None of these people have been “young” and in that sense their deaths are simply part of life, but the steady drumbeat of loss after loss has been hard.  It’s also made me more aware of impending losses as I witness the aging and/or illnesses of family members and friends, and recognize the losses (of relationships, community and professional stature, and of the structure that has governed my days) that will come with my retirement next year.

Against the backdrop of so much loss I have been working on living more in the present and less in the future, and on letting go of my perfectionism and need for order in favor of accepting the people and situations in my life with love and gratitude even when they do not meet my “standards.”  It is a journey for sure, and some days I am more successful than others.

A couple of weeks ago Michael Wade posted the following quote from Frederik Buechner on his Execupundit blog, and the final sentence has lived with me since I read it –

If I were called upon to state in a few words the essence of everything I was trying to say as a novelist and as a preacher, it would be something like this: Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.

“…in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”  

I am holding these words close as I reflect on the lives that have been lost, and the losses that are certain to come.

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