“Death ends a life, not a relationship”
– Robert Benchley
Special bonds that exist in life do not dissipate with death. I am finding more and more that the dynamic of a meaningful relationship continues. Sometimes we hear of instances where someone who is grieving over the loss of a loved one has an encounter of some kind with that one who has gone before. The most significant people in my life who have died are my grandmother, my father, and my mother. I name them in the order in which they departed for that unknown country. I have never had any kind of vision of any one of them appearing in any form or dream. I have been aware, however, that somehow I continue to interact with them. Their personalities and influence continue to affect my responses to situations in life. I believe that those relationships, especially close familial relationships will, for good or ill, continue to hold sway in our lives, even after that person has left this world.
There are times when I become acutely aware of my father’s continuing presence. Often my own actions bring on this awareness. I find myself standing a certain way, or positioning my body a certain way that suddenly reminds me of my father. Or, I may call to mind how my father might have reacted in a situation similar to one I may be facing. Many times I may recall the words that my mother or father said to me at one time or another.
My daughter, Elaine, now a sophomore in college, said it better than I could many years ago. When she was four years old she showed me a truth of remembering our loved ones. One day my wife, Vicki, was moving a cedar chest which had belonged to Vicki's grandmother. She commented to Elaine that her grandmother had left the chest to her when she died.
"Were you sad when your grandmother died?" Elaine asked.
"Yes, I was very sad," Vicki replied.
"Did you cry?"
"Yes, I cried a lot."
"How long did you cry?"
"I cried for days and days, "Vicki told her.
"You mean you just cried and cried and cried until you knew she was in your heart?" Elaine asked as she looked to her mother for confirmation.
I can think of no better way to summarize love, loss, grief and remembrance.