“Grief I’ve learned is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”
As I sit here and reflect on the past year the first thing that comes to mind is that as of about 1:30pm today, January 2nd 2017 it has officially been one year since we were in that hospital and were told that the man above we loved so much, had died. 365 days have passed. I made a comment to my fiancee Angie that before we knew it, a year will have come and gone… and it did faster than I could have ever imagined. It was without a doubt the toughest and most trying year of my life not just for how it started, but for many more events during 2016. I have relived that day pretty much daily. I have watched the video from KDLT many times as well as the video from the prayer service. Anytime One Republic’s song “I Lived” comes on the radio, my thoughts go straight to him. I’ve even had to sneak out of seeing patients so that they wouldn’t see the tears. I’ve never cried as much as I did this year. I have never felt as much hurt as I did this year.
So what do I take away from this year? I’m still trying to figure that out. But I will say this, I’m getting help. Yesterday when I was thinking about today, we got a text from my Uncle Jim. For those of you that know my Uncle Jim, he’s got a different view on life to say the least, but he can always seem to put things into perspective. He sent us this photo below with a very simple phrase “The luckiest guys in the world. Happy New Year.”
God only knows what was said and why we’re all laughing in this photo, and to be honest it’s probably something that doesn’t need to be repeated, but looking at this right now brings tears to my eyes of both happiness and sadness. The sadness is there because my cousin John is not around to be in this picture. That sadness still hurts in ways I can’t express. But with that, the happiness is there because this hunting picture reminds me of all the good things that did happen in 2016. The support from friends and family. The many hunting days like this that I got to spend like this one above with MY guys, the elk hunt with my Montana boys, pheasant hunting with the chiro buddies, Ryder cup with a long time friend, 4oth Birthday parties with the SDSU crew, or even just being able to kiss my fiancee at midnight on New Years Eve.
As many of you know the picture above is from the big pheasant hunt on December 23rd with cousins and friends from both sides of John’s family. This is something that John always wanted to do but never got around to it. What happened that day was awesome. Birds were shot. Laughs were had. Beers were drank. And yes there were a few tears. But in the end we celebrated the way he would have wanted us to and as we missed birds, I could hear him say “dumbass.”
So what did I take away from this year? I’m going to go back to what is said right after John passed.
First off I still shake my head at what a lucky son of a bitch John was. He did it right. He died doing something he loved with people who loved him knowing he was married to his wife Tracy, the love of his life. Be jealous of that.
Second, be a good person. I have no concern where John is now for I am certain it is somewhere good, especially for a man as good as John.
Third, the best way we can remember John is to live our lives. He may not be with us physically, but I guarantee you he has been with us since he left this earth. I guarantee you he was with us on that big hunt laughing as 12 shots would be fired and the pheasant would still fly away unscathed. I carry one of his 16 gauge shells from that day wherever I go to remind myself that he is with me.
Fourth is life is short enough if we live till we’re 85, but especially if you’re taken from earth at the age of 39. Don’t live life with regrets. Climb that damn mountain. Take the trip. Go on that hunt. Roll up on that guy or gal who you’ve thought about forever but never had the balls to ask out. Start that business. Get out of your own way. Live your life the way you want to and without regrets.
Fifth and I think most important is love people and love yourself. This world is full of hate as this year has clearly shown so let’s love people more. Love your family and friends and don’t hold grudges against them because they can be taken in a moment. Love people you don’t even know because everyone is fighting a battle that we have no idea about. Listen to Dr. Martin Luther King.
So at 1:30 today I’m going to have a drink to toast John. I’m also going to toast to have an amazing 2017 because I’m going to make it amazing. I love you and miss you John and won’t ever forget you.
Oh I almost forgot one more thing I learned from 2016… I am the luckiest guy in the world.
Till next time
Chris “TINY” Lane