Keep Swimming

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Grief: keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow;painful regret.

As humans, we go through the best and worst parts of our life.  If we are fortunate enough, we have friends to help us along the way.  Sometimes, those friends know when to hold us up and when to let us fall so we can learn to stand back up on our own.  Because when we do stand, we come back stronger than before.  We might be dinged up, have some scratches, bleed, but those heal and form the scars of life we are lucky to have.

A very close friend of mine, one who fits the mold above, sent me something recently that resonated with me.  It is what inspired me to share a post here after some absence.  He and I have been through the balance of life together as it relates to light and dark, life and death. We have experienced life and death at the same time as if one was passing the baton to the other.  Our stories are unique, but the struggle is universal.  After reading this post, I knew I had to share it with others because I feel it may help someone out there, as it has helped us. This might help someone change the way they approach life and death, or some other type of circumstance that has caused grief.

This is an excerpt of a post that came up on Reddit a few years back. There is the title of the post followed by one of the responses:

“My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”

I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not.

I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents…

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. But I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it.

Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

Life is not a guarantee nor is it a right.  We are here temporarily on this planet.  We are the lucky ones that get to experience the ride of life.  Parts of the ride can hurt, but those moments create character and strength.  Progress is made through holding up your shield, grabbing the shipwreck, confronting the painful events, looking at them squarely and facing the realities of loss, death, or disappointments. Be proud of the pain, feel the pain because you can, be proud of your scars.  Those scars, those strike marks are the battle wounds of life that make us who we are.  That is why The Sisu Way logo and header of this website has strike marks and scratches in it.

Earn your scars, pick up your shield, stay strong, and keep swimming.

pier2

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