This was first written as a tribute to our friend, Beno Borzell, who passed away 2 ½ years ago. His birthday has just come and gone and I wanted to celebrate him, once again, with a repeat of this column.
The week Beno died, I’d already written my column. It was the usual frivolity, mayhem and ridiculousness. But when he passed away, I was brought me to my knees.
A silly column seemed wrong and trite. It seemed inappropriate and disrespectful.
We’d lost a wonderful, smart, rising star as a result of a motorcycle accident; the sadness was thorough and it was raw. It was the second passing of a child that year and it hits a small community in the gut. It knocks the wind out of all of us, we grieve wholly and completely and we cry honestly with those whom they have left behind.
When someone so young, so full of expectation and potential passes away, it’s an indescribable pain. There is no rationale. There is no sense. We question ourselves, our soul, our religion. We question God, we question the universe. There is no logic to this type of death. There just simply… isn’t.
I sit here and wonder what can I possibly write to celebrate this young man’s life? A life from which he has gathered more joy than an
average adult can piece together in their lifetime.
I don’t know what I can say to do justice to his shining time on Earth, to not sound like I am just making noise. I‘ve decided that when something of this magnitude occurs, it is time to re-examine and reorganize our own lives and our own motives. As my grandmother used to say: it’s time to straighten up and fly right. It is our time to fly right.
Use this tragedy to understand how important it is to love everyone. You’ve got to tell your kids you love them every single day, all day, and show them your love a hundred different ways until Tuesday. Let your children know they matter.
They were born into this word to be loved and embraced by you. Don’t ridicule your children, don’t belittle your children, don’t make your children feel anything less than just right.
If you have not loved your child today, do it right now.
Children…tell your parents they are loved. They may know this on some innate level, but if we never hear it, we sometimes believe it may not be true. I love you. It’s so simple and so basic. It speaks volumes; it moves mountains.
We need to know we are appreciated and adored. Never say good night without saying “I love you. Never say goodbye without saying “I love you.” It is as important to us as the sun rising each day.
We all experienced a catastrophic flood last year. It was awful and it was a pain in the but…but all the material things we lost are replaceable. And those that aren’t…cannot matter.
Our children matter.
Our friends and parents matter.
Our rugs and floors and books and toasters…they really don’t matter.
If we prioritize our lives in this manner, it makes more sense. It makes it bearable. We are all still here and can buy a new toaster.
Stop whining. Nothing in your life is worth whining about. Make a decision every day when you awaken: “Today, everything is possible. It’s all good…nothing to cry about. Today is here, I am here and we are all fine.”
Don’t log onto Facebook tonight and whine about your boyfriend, your bad haircut, your ingrown toenail or your weight gain. Just don’t. Decide that each day is worth something positive and amazing.
A smile and a skip in your step wouldn’t hurt, either.
Say you’re sorry, and mean itt. When you make a mistake, admit you’ve made a mistake. Don’t cover up, don’t place blame and, for God’s sake, don’t ignore it and hope it vaporizes. No one will shoot you with an air-soft gun if you err. Just say you’re sorry and accept your fate. Apologizing when you’ve hurt someone shows humility, self awareness and grace. There are so many roads to take in this lifetime. Take the road to right.
To say my heart is broken for the families who have lost a child sounds extraneous and unsubstantial. But it’s true. My heart is broken. I have cried and I have cried some more. I will never understand the monstrosity of your grief, but I share my heart and tears with you.
There is a poem I’ve had tucked into every wallet I‘ve owned since my red patent leather Barbie wallet, circa 1972. It has survived its own flood in Agnes, a theft, a return and a drop in a toilet at Penn State. This poem has seen me through more scenarios in these past 39 years than I care to admit, but it always comforts me and gets me through the most horrific of times. It eases the pain of loss and soothes my aching heart. I want to share it with you and perhaps it will soothe yours, too.
This one is for Beno.
Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
By Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.