April 14th is my mother’s birthday. Today, she would have celebrated her 62nd year on this earth. I would have called her by now and probably would have made plans to drive up to visit this weekend. For the past eight birthdays that have come and gone since her passing, today was usually a hard day. Today is the ninth birthday I have commemorated without her, but I am no longer filled with sadness or anger. For the last few years of her life, she suffered greatly: she was in pain, both physically and emotionally, the only time I ever saw her truly happy were those brief moments she was able to meet her (step) grandson. Christine and I occasionally talk about how those moments were what kept her alive, and once she saw me truly happy, she no longer fought. The one thing she wanted more than anything on this earth was grandchildren, it did not matter if they were blood or not. Well, she got one, and she loved the hell out of him for the few moments she was able to be around him.
I carry cartloads of anger around with me every day, and it can get to be burdensome. When my mother passed away, it changed me. Literally. I have become more serious now than I ever was before, and pessimistic to boot. I no longer tend to look for the good in people but instead, I prepare to be disappointed. In a way, that has helped me. Afterall, stoic philosophy teaches this aspect of life. Prepare to be disappointed, and when you are not, what a wonderful surprise! It is not to be confused with pessimism, although it is very easy to do so; I admit there is a fine line.
There is one other thing that stoicism has taught me, and it is the most important gift of all. Nothing and no one ever belong to you. Everything and everyone truly belong to the earth. We are here for a brief moment and then we are not. It is as simple as that. Therefore, we never “lose” anything or anyone, they are simply returned (yes, this even applies to possessions, but that’s another story for another day.) Why grieve over the death of my mother when her time on earth was not pleasant for her? Why grieve over the death of my father when his time on earth was not pleasant for him? Even if they had each led amazing, pain-free lives, I think I would rather celebrate the time I was able to spend with them then mourn over the time that was taken away from me. Time does not belong to anyone.
Water will eventually find its way around the stone.