On Understanding Forever

I’m written before about how my sleep problems started after Dad died. It was easy for me to figure out why. I had spent my whole life falling asleep imagining my stress away. If I was struggling with money I’d fall asleep imagining winning the lottery or scoring that perfect job. If I was stressed about relationships I’d imagine mended fences and rekindled kindness. If I was stressed about my house I’d imagine someone buying it. And so on…

But when Dad died, I couldn’t imagine that one away. There was no story I could write in my head that would bring him back. That would enter fantasy world, and in order for me to relax into sleep, the stories I’d write myself to alleviate my pain had to be believable.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. About how there are some concepts that you understand conceptually, but it takes something REAL to bring them into a practical understanding. Like pain. You know what pain is if you’ve stubbed your toe, but real pain is hard to imagine until you’ve experienced a broken bone, or child birth, or a spinal tap etc. You know pain SUCKS but it’s not something you can truly understand beyond the abstract until you’ve felt it deeply.

I think death is like that with the concept of FOREVER. We all practically know what forever means. But I think it takes something like death, for you to truly understand. Wait. This…this is FOREVER. There is no end to this thing right here. This thing…this thing is infinite. Is never-ending. There is no end point to “Dead Dad” it just goes into time…FOREVER.

And it’s THAT, the understanding of FOREVER, that started screwing with my sleep.

I think “forever” sounds great in wedding vows and in professing love for your children, but in those ways it’s still abstract. Because – as depressing as it sounds – the true forever is death and THAT “forever” is the one that will put an end to the others.

But I don’t believe there is anything LESS valuable in thinking of Forever in the abstract term.

I do believe a person’s love can exist as an energy in the world beyond their life. I’ve been thinking about this a lot in regards to the love my Dad had for me. I feel that so deeply that I know I spread it around me. I know that I have given a piece of his love to every friend and family member and they will then carry HIS love within MY love. And that is TRUE value in the more abstract Forever of the energy we put in the world that live on past our bodies.

Because some day I will die too. And so the ripples of my Dad’s love and the ripples of my love will fade and be over taken by ripples of the stronger, LIVING love of the people who come after us.

And that is okay.

Forever can be a scary and painful thing to accept in the death of a loved one, but I’m learning to focus on the more abstract Forever that lingers in the love we can leave in the world. I still have love to give and to spread and I can create as lasting of a ripple effect as possible so my love continues to disrupt the world in my absence. And – in terms of the world – it is the love that we each put out there that will continue to add our light to the world long after we are gone.

So lately I am really trying to think about what type of energy I want to linger after my practical Forever death. I am trying to be more in tune to the energy I’m putting into the world so that I can someday (hopefully far into the future) close my eyes into my own practical Forever and know that the energy I put into the world contained less gossiping and making fun of people and more loving and supporting of people. I have always been one who is affected by my own energy output, I feel shitty if I gossip or mock people. So naturally I tend to not fall down those traveled paths, but I want to be more proactive about not just avoiding putting negative energy into the world, but ACTIVELY pursuing LOVE and putting it out into the world. It’s not enough to just NOT be hateful, to embrace the abstract Forever that follows me around, I need to ADD more LOVE and Light into the universe.

And I can’t think of a better way to face forever, abstract or otherwise.

2 Comments

  • Beth Edwards

    All I can say to this is Amen. Your legacy is the positive things you do- but the negative can subtract from that- so put as much positive into it as you can.

  • Kara

    This is so powerful. Thank you for writing and sharing this. My mom recently died and the pain seems to be getting worse instead of better. The way you described your dad’s love rippling out fom you to others is comforting to me. I’m going to try to reframe my thinking anout my mom in the same way.