My cherished pal Penny Morang Richards made this comment to my “Death of a Sibling” post Friday: “It has to hurt. That’s how you know it was good.”
She said it in response to my concluding thoughts:
I’ve learned that life is a gift to be cherished and used wisely. I’ve also learned that it hurts sometimes. That’s OK.
She knows exactly what she’s talking about. Go read the past year of entries in her blog, “Penny Writes… Penny Remembers.” If you can’t learn how to live in the face of horrible loss from the writings of Penny Morang Richards, I got nothing else for you. She lost her only child last year. The wounds are still gaping and bleeding for her. I’ve had 27 years to process Michael’s death and 14 to process Sean Marley’s passing.
She’s absolutely right about hurt. When loss stings, it’s because you had something good.
The problem is that we don’t always realize we have something precious until it’s ripped from us.
I thought my brother would always be around. I thought Sean would always be there. I thought Peter Sugarman would at least be there for a few more years.
There’s a lot of good in my life today. I’ll never take it for granted like I did back then.
Have I led a tragic life? No fucking way.
I’ve lost a lot of people I cared for and my body has been through the meat grinder. But that can never take away the blessings.
And it’s not over yet.
To understand this, just think about your own life. You’ve no doubt experienced sickness and death, family dysfunction and career ups and downs.
If you haven’t, you will.
In between the rough patches, I fell in love with and married the best gal on Earth, had two precious children who keep me laughing and loving, I’ve enjoyed a lot of success in my career, traveled to a lot of cool places and found God.
That stuff doesn’t suck.
Then there’s the joy I feel every day in recovery. All the great friends I have, doing a job I love and having the OCD under control.
Would I want to go through the bad stuff again? Of course not. But the weird truth is that I’m not sure I’d change the past, either. It’s easy for someone to wish they had a lost loved one back in their life and that they were less touched by illness.
But without having gone through these things, would I be where I’m at today?
I’m not so sure.