We Say Goodbye, Then Life Goes On
by Ruby Bayan - 04/16/99
Two weeks ago, one of my mountaineering friends died in a terrible accident. Despite her being a very good swimmer, she couldn’t escape an undercurrent which sucked her down and pinned her between huge rocks. Rescue efforts failed to pull her out of the water in time to save her life. All of a sudden we were all hit by the realization that our precious friend, Fe, was gone.
Reactions to her death jammed the mountaineers’ e-mails. Fe’s best friends spread letters about how good a soul she had been - ever thoughtful, totally giving, and always there to add brightness to the day. Those of us who knew Fe from climbing together a few times joined the family and friends in praying, and paying last tributes to someone who had touched our lives.
So what do we do when our special someone is suddenly gone? I, personally, have my own ways of coping. Maybe these will help you, too.
Take it as a reminder.
They say we only realize how valuable something is, after we’ve lost it. The same is true for friends and loved ones. How often we neglect the smiles, the helping hand, the comforting word of someone who cares for us. Sometimes we totally take for granted the efforts our loved ones put in making us happy and comfortable. And often, when they’ve gone, we come to realize we didn’t thank them enough.
The departure or loss of someone special is a reminder that life is shorter than we think. Appreciating the people who are now in our lives, while they’re still in our lives, is a personal reassurance that in case they have to leave us soon, we have expressed our thanks for their presence.
Remember them fondly.
It takes time to get over the sudden departure of a loved one. Physical presence, face-to-face interaction, and the warm touch are all basic human requirements. Absence is a kind of pain that bears down on even the most vibrant personality.
That is why we take pictures, we capture videos, and we tape voices – to lend physical substance to an otherwise unreachable loved one. But in the absence of these, there is always our imagination and fond memories. As long as they exist in our minds, all these people dear to us, they will always be with us – even after we have finally gotten used to their physical absence.
Dependent as we are on the people who support and trust us, nothing in the world can assure us that they will be with us forever. And when they do go, we find ourselves alone, helpless, desolate, and hopelessly lost.
It is all right to grieve, and perfectly natural to feel sorry. But the world cannot stand still on our sorrow. The fact that we still breathe, that we are the ones they “left behind”, is life’s way of saying, “You have to move on.” We must accept the loss and face the day. We have the world, the time, and the capability to make the rest of our lives worthwhile.
Life cannot assure us there will be no more departures or losses. But this should not stop us from going out, and gaining more friends and loved ones, with whom we can build many more fond memories to cherish today and always.
So, as I try to get over Fe’s sudden departure, I look to the other people who also mean much to me; I let myself remember Fe as the cheerful young lady who stood strong under her backpack; and I say to myself, “as long as I’m still here, I will do my best to make everyone proud of me”.
To our dear friend, Fe: You touched many lives, mine included. We are all proud to have known you. May you rest in peace.