From now until October 31st life is not quite the same as the rest of the year. What, might you ask, brings significance to this time of my life? Some of you might already know. It is the worst time of the year for me.
When someone dies and even one person who loves or cares for them even a little bit, a hole is left behind. Once that person is gone, no one EXACTLY like them will ever come along. Each person truly is unique. Our perceptions are different even if our experiences are the same, and it is that personal reality that shapes who we are and who we become.
Who we are and become is also shaped by each individual who enters our lives. The homeless man I see on the side of the road who makes me consider what I should and could be doing to help the homeless – he effects who I Am. The woman at church who is amazingly sweet, and entirely senile and has no clue that she effects so many with her sunny disposition and amazing love – she effects who I Am. The husband who stands by with with every high and low, every gaseous moment I eat lactose anyway, every late night I cannot sleep and every single laugh, smile and quiet moment of cuddles in the dark – he effects who I Am. And the man who came to this earth and walked on it, leaving behind the most beautiful, amazing kingdom you could even fathom and died in a horrible way so I could live forever – he effects who I Am.
The woman who was first and only for six years before me, put up with my childhood thievery without killing me, endured midnight calls of desperation and immaturity, and was always as much of a mother as our own – she shaped who I Am. Without her I would have been much like she was, and made many mistakes that I avoided simply because she lived and was honest with me about the trials and consequences of her choices. I didn’t marry my high school sweetheart because she did. Her choice made me re-think my own. Two amazing girls came out of her relationship, but I am grateful that two amazing girls came out of my future relationship. I avoided sexual activity to the best of my ability until I met my true love and married him because she did not avoid sex and shared with me what it cost her. I never drank anything much until she died or even did any drugs because her and I talked about how stupid it was to get drunk or be high. Her rigorous honesty and bare-heartedness (yes I might have made up a word!) made me who I have become. Even the memory of her continues to shape me. In her absence I am more active in her daughter’s lives then I might have otherwise been in her presence. And I even have conversations in my head from time to time, thinking of what she might say if I were to call her.
I miss her. Mary Elizabeth Mann Zawicki was the most extraordinary woman I have ever personally known, and a good sister – even if a frustrating one. Her heart was too big and her patience with God too small but it made her who she was. She was and forever will be my sister and today I began to feel the effects of this yearly time of mourning I have endured the past six years since her death. Each year at this time I begin to reflect on her life, her death and her absence.
May God bring you a little extra peace today if you have experienced the feeling of loss. Hold on to those relationships – those people – who matter to you most. Life is truly short when weighed against Eternity. You never know when your candle will be snuffed out and never re-lit. I could quote a dozen great quotes about living life to the fullest but lets just leave it at that.