Friday, August 28, 2015

And in the end...

I have always paid attention to the songs that get stuck in my head. When Kevin was dying I found this song playing over and over and over again. No wonder. Give it a listen.

From the refrain of "love you" to those final lyrics, everything about this made sense in those final days. When Kevin was dying all I could think was I love you. His last words were to tell me that he loved me. He died with his hand in mine, looking into my eyes until his last breaths. The love in that room was palpable, I'm sure if someone had come in with the right equipment it would have been beyond measure.

It still is.

Today at 6:35 p.m. I will mark 17 months since Kevin died. I love and miss him still. This is no surprise, I was very lucky to have him in my life in the way that I did for as long as we had. I am still very lucky. I have been so well loved by Kevin and many others, so supported since his diagnosis and death, the idea of not returning to life eventually became impossible. I am choosing to be engaged in the world and carry on living. I wrote about this here, and it's a decision I continue to make every day without regret, though certainly with struggle and dissonance.

Kevin was so good at love. He loved so well and was loved so deeply in return. I know how many of you miss him, how many of you have come to love him since you met me and know him only through these writings. He wasn't the only one. I am surrounded by people who excel at love. I am so lucky.

As soon as I started writing about grief I knew I would eventually write this blog post, I just didn't know when. I didn't know when I would be back in myself enough that the love would be a larger part of me than the pain. I know the pain will continue to come, there will be waves of grief (and today is difficult, Fridays are hard, the 28th of the month moreso) but now I know the love is more enduring.

This is not only because of Kevin, not only because of the ways he loved me and taught me to love, but it's also because of you. The community of people who have witnessed my grief is extraordinary. Each of you, whether I know you personally or not. I couldn't be where I am without you.

I've been told that I am brave for sharing all of this. I don't feel brave. I feel as though it was the only way I knew to survive and, on some level, even at the darkest moments I knew I would eventually return to life. I knew there would be a time when I could feel the light and warmth of the world, though it might feel like its own kind of loss. I won't say I've come out on the other side because there is no other side to grief, I am irrevocably changed as is everyone who has experienced a loss, but I am again letting myself be present with the world, I am again allowing for the possibility of hope, of love, of joy, of life. It's really hard. Part of me feels like I am betraying Kevin but I know with absolute certainty he would never want me to be suspended indefinitely.

Which brings me back to the song. I am so grateful for all of the love I have received. Part of me feels so much less than worthy of this, so aware that I can never repay you all for your kindness and compassion. For your love. But the rest of me, the part that feels the breeze, the sunlight, the possibility, knows that my work in the world is to remember that grief is part of life, a flip side of love, and to embrace all of it with as much fervor as I can. My work is to help others do the same, be it with love or grief or creativity. My work is to be grateful for the gifts I have been given and to pass them on, that is how I can make as much love as I have taken. My work is to love and be loved.

My work in the world is to live. As is yours. We live to the best of our ability in any given moment. Sometimes those moments are sobbing on the floor. Sometimes they are doing chores or laughing until we can't breath or listening to a friend, a stranger, a song. We get to live. All of us. We are all so lucky.

Thank you for reading and for walking on this path with me.
Thank you for witnessing, for holding the space, for reaching back to me so patiently, over and over again.
Thank you Kevin for everything.
Thank you world for being here when I was ready to come back, for giving me what I most need and least expect.
I am so grateful.

I don't know if this is what I really wanted to say in this post. But it is what I needed to say.

And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

(c)2015 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. We've never met, and yet at this moment I wish I could put my arms around you and whisper 'yes, yes'.

  2. Laura, You may find this book of benefit, written by another storyteller of sorts.


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