Last year, on Dec. 9th, 2016, around eleven thirty in the morning, I got a call that my oldest daughter was dead. She was forty one and had eight children, five still at home. You never expect that sort of thing to happen, at least not to your kid. And not to you. And not right before Christmas.
You never dream that you'll be attending your daughter's funeral on the day you were supposed to be having your annual family Christmas party. It's just not in the unwritten manual of things to expect as a mom. When someone unexpectedly passes, it causes a huge wave that pulls people out of the woodwork. Then, the shock wears off and concerned neighbors and coworkers etc. drift back into their familiar grooves, and the immediate family and close friends are left to adjust, and deal with their grief.
My initial reaction to the news that Aubrey was dead, was shock. How could this be possible?? Even when I saw the proof it still didn't seem real. Gradually my mind accepted that she was gone, and I adjusted to the reality, and felt peace about her passing.
My firstborn daughter was always my teacher. She taught me what it was to be a mom, even a not-so-popular one. She and I were like oil and for most of our lives, we sat firmly on opposite sides of the fence. Eventually this became so uncomfortable for me, that I ventured over to her side, sincerely yearning to understand what made her tick. And, progress was made.
Dealing with a daughter who was challenging to me, taught me the value of going out of your way to meet other people in their territory, and looking for the good in others and loving them unconditionally. Aubrey taught me it is essential to ask for forgiveness, and to also forgive yourself for doing life imperfectly!
The day that I got the call, all I could think was, if this is really real, I'm SO GLAD I put myself out there and made a real effort to get along with her, and that things had improved between us. I was thankful my last year with her was good!
I was so glad the last time I saw her, I gave her a hug and told her I loved her!
Aubrey continued to teach me after she passed. She taught me what it's like to lose a child, and even though I hope I don't have to ever experience that again, I know I'm strong enough to handle it gracefully. There are times when I sense that Aubrey is near. I know without a doubt that she lives on in spirit! She is my angel now, and in her wordless angelic way, she lets me know that she sees me through more merciful eyes than she could before. Through Aubrey's passing, I've gained many beautiful insights, and I'm grateful for this blessing.
Mainly what I've learned from the experience of losing my daughter, is life is short, and you never know when it's going to end, for you or someone you love. So don't waste it on trivial things like judging, blaming, holding grudges, and needing to be right.
There's a lot of wisdom in Tim McGraw's song, Live Like You Were Dying. Because it is possible that this will be the last day or week or month or year that you or someone you love has left. To be on the safe side, so you won't look back and have regrets, be your best self and love your life. Love all your dear ones mightily (even if it's just in your heart because they won't receive the love you offer -at least clean things up on your end!), and do your best to truly enJOY all your precious days.
Live like you would, if you knew, you were dying.