Nothing prepares you for the death of a loved one. It's been three weeks since my father-in-law died so unexpectedly and I still don't really believe he's gone.
I'm heading home from Colombia tomorrow. I want to slide under soft sheets and sleep until the New Year. But the universe has made this impossible by presenting me with an innovative writing project which involves deadlines and actual payment. Life it seems, must go on, however unbearable it seems to those grieving.
My father-in-law's passing has shaken me. He was only 73. My grandfather, who died in February, lived to 91. My grandmother celebrated her 92nd birthday with us in Mallorca a couple of months ago, and laughs like she'll live forever. I always assumed everyone I loved would live at least to their nineties.
In September the four of us, my husband and my parents-in-law, spent a wonderful month together in Spain. In Mallorca we swam in the sea, ate delicious food every day and made up for all the distance that had been separating us. In Jerez we became experts in sherry; in Seville we caught a rare peek of street Flamenco.
Everyone tells us now how happy my father-in-law had been after that trip. He returned home renewed and with a fresh enthusiasm to travel and enjoy life. He told his wife, my brilliant mother-in-law, that she should give up work and that they should spend their next years together having fun. How cruel it seems. The only comfort is that his death was swift and painless, and he was a healthy man until the end.
I miss my father-in-law. He was a kind man. A calm man, who didn't fuss or stress. He was curious about life and always learning; interested in what you were doing and supportive. If you didn't know something, he would be straight on Google!
Like my husband, he always seemed to weave his way through the bureaucracy of daily life without getting flustered or angry.
Patient. The only thing that threatened his calm was Bogota traffic, but after experiencing Bogota traffic, you would sympathise. He was better at organising a trip than any travel agency. He knew that life was for living and he lived it with a great appetite. All these qualities, he's passed onto my husband, for which I'm so grateful.
I look at my husband now and I want to engrave each moment in eternity.
If my father-in-law's death has taught me anything, it's that we must live life fully now. Enjoy it. Don't waste it all thinking and planning for the future. Choose experience over possessions! Don't wait until you're retired to embark on the life you dream of. Don't put off what you could be doing today if it's something important to you.
It seems to me that the lesson of death is to live. To live with all your heart.
Rest in Peace my dear father-in-law