“Just keep swimming.” Dory from Finding Nemo

One of my friends died on Sunday. She wasn’t a close friend or a best friend but a friend. She was my sweet friend.  I met her though the repeated crossing of our daughter’s paths.  I did not know her intimately. We merely shared stories and smiles at back to school nights, PTA board meetings and on the soccer field sidelines. She was just always there. And now she wasn’t going to be.  I will miss her sweet smile, her giggly laugh, her gentle spirit, and her never ending light and positive attitude.

I don’t even really know when exactly she was diagnosed because she was always smiling. I had a feeling something was going on last year when she started wearing cute little beanies to cover her balding head. She never seemed to let it keep her down. When I finally did ask her what was up she was very forthright. Spared no detail. She told me of her diagnosis, prognosis and treatments.  And that she was fighting. And she relayed this all with an undeniable energy and smile. There was no doubt in her mind she would beat this. And she-along with everyone else was thrilled when her cancer went into remission. But then as a stealth and cunning assailant the cancer returned and overpowered her.

Her death hit me like a ton of bricks. She had no intention of letting it beat her and I believed that. I grieve for her daughters, for her husband, for her sister and family and for myself and other friends.  We are better for having known her. I feel blessed to have been able to call her a friend.

How do we continue with life after suffering a loss? I, like us all, have suffered great losses and small losses, but losses none the same.  How are we to keep the faith with the suffering and anguish that comes along with the absence of a loved one?

It’s funny…I totally believe in signs. And over the past few days the phrase that has come up repeatedly is ‘keep moving’.  You have to keep moving! I heard it in a song, in a movie and tonight in a poem.  Well there we have it. Just keep moving!! As Dory says, “Just keep swimming.”

One of my favorite poets, Rainer Maria Rilke, addresses this when helping a friend grieve the loss of a loved one. In his Letters On Life translated by Ulrich Baer, Rilke says, “…you have to keep moving. You have to continue his life within your life to the extent that it had not been completed; his life has now passed over to yours and you who truly knew him can move forward quite as he intended: make this the task of your mourning, to explore what he expected of you, hoped for you, wished would happen to you.” This is amazing to me. Our loved one whom we’ve lost had expectations and hopes and wishes for us so it is our job now to explore these.  In this way, our beloved will live on in us.

I love this!!!! That Yolanda’s life will continue to live on in all who knew her through seeking what she expected, hoped and wished for them.  I especially love this when I think of her sweet daughters and how they will carry her light in them. Just as I carry my mother’s light within me.

Losing people always brings up questions for me.  Especially “why?”  I guess that’s human nature. There are really no good answers. I think in a weird, twisted way this is one of the things that makes life worth living. That “shit happens” and sometimes we just don’t know why.  The key is figuring out how to cope; how to deal with it; how to just keep moving.  This makes us strong, helps us to grow.  Feeling that deep immense anguish, finding a way to get out of bed in the morning, and propelling ourselves forward – one step closer to healing.

And it’s though our moving that we truly learn how to live.



4 thoughts on ““Just keep swimming.” Dory from Finding Nemo

  1. Wonderful sentiment, have forwarded your thoughts to my siblings as we deal with the loss of our mother…like the idea of continuing my life to honor hers!

  2. Once again, you have given me food for thought. I continue to enjoy reading your thoughts and look forward to the next journey with you!!!

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