November 5th is an interesting day in the life of my family. Ten years ago, my daughter had her youngest son. He is the third son, only 17 months younger than the middle son and 3 years and a bit younger than his older brother. He is a delight and a bundle of energy. He has aggressively followed his brothers from the moment he was born, determined to keep up! It’s hard to believe he is now in “double digits” celebrating his birthday.
Six years ago, my mother was entering the final days of her life. Facebook reminds me that I cooked dinner that night for my twin sister and my younger brother. My facebook memories remind of the menu: oven roasted salmon, carrots and broccoli and tossed green salad. I noted I was grateful for the staff at West Heights who helped me be present for those important moments.
In another year, there was a wedding which I attended and witnessed the love between a wonderful young couple. One had been my associate pastor and her new husband and I had been on a mission trip together. What a joyful occasion their wedding was and how happy I was there with them.
Exactly one year ago today, my mother-in-law died. My husband and I were there as she transitioned from this life to the next. She had lived 98 1/2 years and it was time. Her mind began to recede before her body. In her last months my husband provided her with lots of laughter and love. She was surrounded by that love and by our prayers and the love and prayers of others.
Joy and sorrow, life and death, love and loss always seem interwoven, on some days more than others. I honor these days and moments. November may make it easier to focus on how precious life is, as the days grow shorter, the nights longer and colder. The leaves turn colors and then release and the ground turns brown in anticipation of the winter.
The turning of the season does not mean all is lost, the change reminds me that life constantly changes and life and death are different sides of the same coin. In the Christian tradition and my faith, out of death comes resurrection and new life. The importance of remembering convinces me that my intentionality of how I live matters in the long run. I remember the deaths, but I celebrate the lives as well: birthdays and anniversaries!
Finding a way to pause for the grief, means the next moments and the next celebrations are a bit sweeter knowing I have no guarantee of how many of those moments will be granted. In the Ecclesiastes the author writes, “for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.”
Indeed, there is a season and a time for everything and there are moments to rejoice and to weep, to laugh and to cry, to mourn and to celebrate. On this day, I celebrate: the memory of my own mother, and my mother-in-law, my grandson’s birthday and a friends anniversary. I am thankful for it every one of those moments and memories.