lessons in time

What I Learned about Life through Death

Two weeks ago, I agreed to meet a business professional for coffee to explore possible business opportunities.  Just your typical form of networking but little did I know where the conversation would lead.  He told me that his son had recently died.  Now this man, who I just met, is mired in the enormity of sorrow through which my husband and I traveled twelve years ago today.

Shortly into the conversation, he asked what I repeatedly ask myself:  “How do you survive?  Does the pain ever go away?”   I do not have the answers for him or anyone else who loses their child. What I know for sure is that we all mourn and grieve differently.  I stuttered as if in disbelief these words, “it will be twelve years on January 29th.”  I told him the pain, for me, never ever goes away, it is just less intense. I wasn’t sure that was what he wanted to hear.  

Most of all, I did want to assure him that joy and happiness will return.   After our daughter, Jodi, died from an osteosarcoma, I couldn’t imagine my life and my family’s life without her.  Throughout her nineteen years, Jodi and I were like any other  mother-daughter relationship.   But, during her last eighteen months from diagnosis to death, ours was engulfed with an intensity of love as we were fighting for life.

Celebrating with Jodi’s friends, Katie & Brian at Dawn’s Wedding

I told him the hardest time, for me, was all of the “first’s.”  Everything you do and experience in life for the first time.   From holidays, birthdays, family gatherings, the change of season, even shopping at Nordstrom’s (one of Jodi’s favorite stores) to her friend’s wedding. I knew I could not live as a grieving mother in the depths of despair.    

I wanted him to know that we do have the ability to choose.

I chose not wanting the world to define me by my loss.  I wanted the opposite:  to live and experience happiness again.  That meant to honor Jodi’s life and legacy by finding a way to make a difference in the world.  Focus on all that I can do.  Be the leader of my life.  

Here’s what I have learned about life through death:

Life is a gift.   Death reminds us that life is precious, temporary and not to be taken for granted or begrudged. A daily practice of gratitude such as a meditation, affirmation or journal entry is a great way to stay positive and aligned with the awareness of the awesome gift of life.

You are more than your resume.  When somebody one day gives your eulogy, it is doubtful your job title will be cited. What will be remembered is how you made people feel, so be mindful of being present in your relationships and be your best self.

Life happens in the present moment.  Don’t contemplate about the past and worry about the future. Death reminds us that all we have for certain is right now. Don’t waste your life second-guessing your past or waiting to live your life. Live life passionately and fearlessly. Live today.

Loss can bring unexpected blessings.  Hardships are opportunities for growth. You never know how strong you are until you endure the unendurable. While it may be impossible to understand our losses, I believe all people come in our lives for a reason and some even help set our lives on the correct path.

Love is the currency of life.   Place less emphasis on achievement, money, and possessions.  Love is what matters and what is remembered. It is LOVE which connects us to one another and to the world around us, in life and beyond.  

 

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18 Comments

  • Julie T Miran / January 29, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Peg what a beautiful tribute and exact description of that time. Also of how differently you do grieve as trying to move on. I miss those Nordstroms shops too with Jamie in the shoe department!?!

    • Peg Calvario / January 29, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      Thank you Julie. Our memories are beautiful gifts that last a lifetime.

  • Rosalie Lisa / January 29, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Peg,
    You have a unique and genuine perspective. You also have a gift with words. Thank you for sharing. Rosalie

    • Peg Calvario / January 29, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      Many thanks Rosalie. Continue offering exceptional patient care in all that you do.

  • Skip / January 29, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Beautifully done. So much wisdom and so many poignant reminders on the gifts we have- and on learning the powerful, transformative lessons that come through tragedy. Thank you so very much Peg.

    • Peg Calvario / January 29, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      Thank you Skip. I am most grateful for your wisdom, perspective and friendship throughout the years.

  • Jane Zoidis Quinn / January 30, 2017 at 8:11 am

    When we moved my dad from his house two years ago I found Jodi’s picture next to our family cross. My father told me how beautiful she was and how he and my mother chose to remember her everyday.

    • Peg Calvario / January 31, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      Jane – thank you so much for your thoughtfulness. I remember like it was yesterday Jodi’s graduation party in which your parents were the first guests to arrive. Please send our love to your Dad.

  • Kara Lertzman / January 30, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Thank you for sharing Peg. What a moving and thought provoking article! I am very truly sorry for your loss. I greatly appreciate reading what you choose to share. Maybe this year I’ll attend one of your workshops. All the best! Kara

    • Peg Calvario / January 31, 2017 at 6:16 pm

      Thank you Kara for your compassion. I hope to see you this year!

  • Dr. Myra Forrest / January 30, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Peg,
    What a thoughtful and deeply moving piece on things learned through death. How death affects each of us is deeply personal, but your thoughts on how to deal with it are very helpful.
    Death surrounds us all the time; leaning from it and being able to deal with it without losing ourselves is critically important. You are right–all of us have only today. One day at a time…

    • Peg Calvario / January 31, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      Thank you Myra for that reminder of “one day at a time.”

  • Diane Peterson / January 30, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Allie still has a picture of Jodi on her refrigerator. Every time I see it ,I smile. Jodi was a special person to our whole family. Loved everything about her. Love you too!!

    • Peg Calvario / January 31, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      Diane what wonderful memories we share. Thank you so much for your comments and love.

  • Deb Lemon / January 30, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    Great article Peg. I enjoyed it very much as I see many “lessons” for me. You are abeautiful woman with a beautiful spirit. Thank you for sharing this❤

    • Peg Calvario / January 31, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      Thank you Deb for your very kind words and thoughtfulness. Continue empowering women (and men) to be their best self both in mind, body and spirit. I will always remember you for your assistance during this difficult time.

  • Tom Neafcy / January 29, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    Thank you for sharing and say hi to coach

  • Susan Harvard / January 29, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    So beautifully expressed Peg. Your writing keeps Jodi’s legacy alive and shining. And that is a gift. Peace to you and yours.

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