I attended the funeral of my friend’s dad today. He was killed a few days ago — it was an unexpected, tragic event that happened. I had been feeling really emotional about it in the days leading up to the funeral. I just felt a lot for my friend and his family. I thought about my own dad and how I’ve often thought about the state I’ll be in once he passes from this earth.
I knew I’d be crying at the funeral today, but I didn’t know the tears would come pretty much ten seconds after sitting down in the visitation room and watching the slide show of family photos playing on the screen at the front of the room. I had never met my friend’s dad but all of this has somehow impacted me a lot.
I have been led to think really hard about a lot of things — about my views on punishment; about what “victim impact” really means (I was a Criminology major, for those who don’t know). I’ve wondered about how I can believe that there is an afterlife for my friend’s dad but not for me. When I die, I believe I will just disintegrate into the ground. Yet I believe that he is in the Pure Land where he deserves to be for being such a kind and generous man.
I also thought about forgiveness and opening up to those close to you in your life. I had started working on a family history project a number of months ago and one theme that quickly became apparent across my older relatives was that of regret. Regrets of wishing they had told one of their family members something when they had the chance, and so on. And I could see how easy it would be to live out several decades of your life not doing anything about some kind of conflict that could at the moment be easily pushed aside and ignored, but down the road would be so much more difficult — or impossible — to repair.
I have thought about my own regrets and feelings of guilt with respect to family a lot in the past several years. And from time to time I’ll tell myself that I don’t want to still have regrets down the road that I didn’t do enough now, that I didn’t see my family enough now, that I didn’t say enough, listen enough. It’s easy for that motivation to subside once “life” gets busy and “in the way.” But what do you say to yourself when the chance is no longer there? No reasoning will seem acceptable enough then. “You should have just made the time” will be the only thing you’ll say (with regret).
I have to confess, there are times when I imagine that someone I love dies. I’ll imagine it happening and I have often cried thinking about it. I don’t know why I do it, but I do. But as morbid and depressing as it can be, I feel that I do need to think about it sometimes (in a somehow healthy way) because it is always a reminder to not take them for granted, a reminder that no one around you will be around you forever. This is all a work in progress. Sometimes (many times) I slip, sometimes I do well. And I think you’ll have to go through some of that along the way, but hopefully, gradually, you do more well than slipping :)
Another thing I thought about is how true it is that so much of what occupies our thoughts, desires, and complaints are so completely trivial (something my friend had written in a FB post). Of course, part of this is understanding that family, friends, loved ones, good health, being a good person — these are the most important things. But I also thought today about what I spend my money on, what I spend my time doing. I asked myself what do I really want to invest my free time and money on, aside from the most important things? And I could think of three things right away (and I haven’t thought of any others since): learn opera again, write music, and finish writing my family history book. These are things I would regret not pursuing to the best of my ability if I did get side-tracked by all of the trivial things instead.
This led me to also think about my mom and sister who are able to live a minimalist lifestyle, and focus their energy and time on the things that they truly value and that are beyond the material and superficial. I often see and hear people making fun of Jehovah’s Witnesses (yes, they are Jehovah’s Witnesses), but I have had nothing but the utmost respect for the way they try to improve themselves, stay true to their beliefs, and what genuinely good and kind-hearted people they are. True, they have their own things that they need to work on, as we all certainly do. But I am nothing but the better for being their daughter and sister — and when friends tell me what a nice and caring person I am, I know exactly who I get that from. If I think of all the people I’ve met in my life and the small fraction of that who are truly genuine, I know that my mom and sister are amongst the top of that very special minority.
Well, I just needed to write all of that down today. I’m thankful to my friend for reminding us all of what is really important in life. I stopped blogging because I felt my posts were not coming from as genuine a place anymore. I know that this is 100% my genuine thoughts and that it’s something I would like to share with others, but more importantly to engrave it in stone (so to speak) for myself.
~ Janice <3
P.S. I’ve decided to start bringing back some posts here from the archives — for now, some Writing From the Heart posts — because there was so much wonderful discussion that happened there that I felt was kinda selfish for me to take away. I hope that people could enjoy reading others’ comments and find some inspiration!