Follow Graceful Endings
A Perfect DayOctober 8, 2014
A few weeks ago, my brother Tommy contacted me to tell me that his beloved wife had died suddenly the night before. As yet unable to believe she was gone, he was in awe as he told me about their last amazing day together. They swam in the sea, playing and kissing like two teenagers. He swung her around in the water, and told her, "You are such a beautiful woman. I love you so much. You're the love of my life." This was one of the most loving, romantic moments in thirty five years of marriage. They enjoyed a lovely meal out and that evening, attended a gathering of their Faith community. The theme of the celebration was "Perfection". They had recently returned from a trip to Sweden where their older daughter had given birth to their first grandchild, whom Tommy called, "the porcelain prince." After I listened to my brother talk and weep via Skype from his home in Puerto Rico, I told him, "What a blessing that her life ended with a perfect day." "Yes!" he said, brightening, "Now that you mention it, it was perfect!"
Her death, so shockingly final, made me mindful once again of how precious and fragile our lives are and how important it is to be grateful for the ones we love every day. Speaking and practicing virtues is one way to do this. G.W. Childs, an American publisher and philanthropist, said: "Do not keep the alabaster box of your love and friendship sealed up until your friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak approving, cheering words while their ears can hear them, and while their hearts can be thrilled and made happier. The kind things you mean to say when they are gone, say before they go."
How deeply glad my brother was, to have spoken those words of love to his wife before she died so unexpectedly. He told me later, "The perfection and visual splendor of that late afternoon in the surf that made it so special, especially when remembered in hindsight as our last day together, unbeknownst to us, and therefore a gift of extraordinary grace." So, tell the ones you love that you love them. Even better, tell them what you love about them. Appreciate their kindness, their courage, their wisdom, or their generosity. Seeing people through the lens of virtues, the whole world will look brighter.