Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal… Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” and find that there is no death. –Eckhart Tolle
Today I’m thinking about what we keep. I got a new phone last month and found out that my saved voicemails wouldn’t carry over to the new phone. I had a Valentine’s Day message from my Pop on there, and I knew it would be the last one. Every twenty-one days Verizon would prompt me to save that message, but I never could hit the number 7 to delete it. I would listen, think maybe I could just keep it in my memory, then I’d tear up and realize: no. I need that message.
I held the phone up to my computer and recorded that voicemail and you can hear that keeper right here:
(My audio upload skills need improvement. Feel free to offer advice!)
I try not to be too much of a pack rat, but cards and letters are some of the things I just can’t get rid of. These handwritten time capsules have become even more valuable lately, as their frequency decreases with the increase of digital messaging.
Two good friends and wonderful women own a store in Missoula called Noteworthy* Paper + Press, and I encourage you to visit their gorgeous shop, spend the four dollars, and send someone you love a keeper. I doubt you’ll regret it. Visit them here:
My Pop died today, eight months after he left that message for me. He wanted me to remember his voice strong, but because he’d lost most of his energy he was unable to make another call. He was simply too weak and emotional to call, but really he was too weak to pretend everything was okay. He would never want me to worry about him.
My poppy was a very proud man, and although I’ve wanted to visit him over the past six months that he was on his slow, downhill slide, I respected his wishes and didn’t go. I decided last week that it was time. It was time for me to see him, and at the very least it was time I visit with my mom and Mimi, maybe get them to laugh a little.
Every time my mom asked my pop if he wanted me to visit he made a gesture to indicate clearly that he did not. When she told him I was coming he cried, and a few days later he let go and passed on. Yes, I’m sad I won’t get to hold his hand again, kiss him on his smooth forehead, listen to his wonderful stories, and assure him that I’m taking good care of myself. But that wasn’t what he wanted, and the old guy got his way until the very end. God Bless Him.
I know it wasn’t because he didn’t want to see me, but rather because he didn’t want me to see him. Not in his weakened state. And who could blame him? That’s the problem with all of us who are afraid to expose our vulnerability, our frailties, our faults. Why?
This needs to stop. We all need to be a little braver about exposing who we are, both the good and the not-so-good. There really isn’t any bad; don’t let anyone convince you there is. I know how I feel when someone is vulnerable with me. I feel trusted. I don’t think less of them for their risk in being honest, but instead my respect increases exponentially, and I just want to wrap my arms around them. Let’s all just try a little more of it.
As the great Dr. Suess said:
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
I don’t think there’s anything else to say tonight, but I urge you: send cards, leave voicemails, mend fences, say sorry, tell people you love them, hug and kiss, take risks, have no regrets. Be brave.