The long, glorious days have arrived in Seattle. The sun rises shortly after 5am and sets after 9pm. We’ve savored the warmth of the sun on our faces; the sky has been more blue than grey in the past few weeks.
The tradeoff is that, in the winter, the days are short. The sun rises close to 8am and sets before 4:30pm. Furthermore, the pewter clouds and rain blot out the light of the sun. The days are dark.
These cycles, though, are predictable. We celebrate what light we have during those winter days as we step through puddles and under naked trees. During the summer, we relish the long days as we witness the alpenglow of the sleeping volcano, hike the verdant mountains, and squint at the sparkling waters of the sound.
Life is not predictable. We do not know if our lives will be like a day in December or June in Seattle. We only know the length of day after the sun sets, after someone dies.
When his mother died, my father followed the custom and wore a black braid around his left bicep.
“How long did you wear it for?”
He gave me four pieces of black yarn. While on the plane I created an uneven braid with the yarn and wrapped it around a black armband. I will wear it until August 20th.
The thing about death and dying is that, even though you know it will happen, it’s still abrupt.
This is why it is vital that you say what you need to say and do what you need to do while you still can.
You don’t know when someone you love or care about will die. If you have stuff you need to tell someone—your apologies, your love, your hopes, your affection—tell them now.
We regret those things that we could have done, but, for whatever reason, chose not to. Regret sucks.
And even if you do say everything you need to say and do everything you need to do, know that it may still not be enough. For those that we love, we can never tell or show them enough how much we love them, how grateful we are for them, how much we want them to have happiness and peace. When they die, that ache of regret may still persist: You wish you could express your love to them one last time.
It will be too late.
I told my mother everything I wanted to say in the six months between the time of her diagnosis of cancer and her death. She took advantage of the time, too, and shared her hopes, fears, dreams, and wishes with me.
I thank her. And I miss her.