I read an article last week about Rocky Abalsamo, a 97-year old man who spent the last two decades sitting beside his deceased wife’s grave. People.com spun it as a lovelorn romantic tale, this man so heartsick for the love of his wife he spent every waking moment beside her side, not only in life but in death.
But then reality dawns, bright as day, when you consider Rocky spent twenty years of life living among the dead.
Just the thought is eerily appalling.
Now I’m not saying if I pass on before Mike, that I don’t want him to cry a little (or a lot) for the sake of missing me and the life we share, but I certainly don’t want him to stop his life over it. For 20 years.
If she loved him at all, I don’t think Rocky’s wife would have really wanted that for him either.
I clicked away from the article mentioning the tale to Mike and we agreed on the oddity of it – but the story wouldn’t leave me. The more I thought about it the more I realized it wasn’t so bizarre after all. Rocky certainly isn’t the only one to hold on tightly to something he lost, even when he couldn’t really hold onto it at all.
Death, in all it’s forms, is the unfortunate caveat of life. We lose family. Friends. Opportunities. Relationships. Jobs. Plans. Hopes. Dreams. It is a painful reality. Wherever there is the chance for life, there is also the chance for death.
My husband Mike had a job that was like a dream come true, and then he lost it. It was real and it was painful, and something died in me that day. At the time it was ok to cry. It was ok to hurt. It was ok to mourn what I felt we lost.
What wasn’t was me living there, unwilling to move forward into the future, like Rocky sitting beside his dead wife.
A dream was gone, hope had failed, and our future needed to be reimagined after that day. But I tried to hold all our broken pieces together the way they once were instead of giving myself permission to leave them in the grave they belonged in and walk away. It wasn’t until I picked myself up and left the cemetery of that experience that I realized what I missed in all that mourning.
How long will you hold on to that thing, that dream, that opportunity lost? When will you give yourself permission to take that first courageous step into the future?
Death may be all around us. It may in fact, be as real as the sun in the sky – but there is so much more living to do in spite of it.
Do what you need to. Cry that final cry, defiantly wipe your eyes, and embrace the courage to walk away. It will most certainly be difficult, but you owe it to yourself.
There is so much more ahead.