August 22: And Now, For The Rest Of The Story

Erin Ruecklies and my wife, Carla Jones

Paul Harvey used to be a radio commentator back in the day, who had a segment called, “And now, for the rest of the story!”  He had a voice that was entertaining to listen to, and he used to put out inspirational, informational, educational, and motivational content over the radio, consistently and daily.  I loved listening to it as a little boy.

And now, for the rest of the story about Erin:

A few months before her death, during a family dinner, Erin and her husband approached me and my wife.   (Her death was a total freak accident that could have literally happened to anyone.  Erin had gotten into a fender bender, and after getting out of the car to speak to the other driver, she was struck by another vehicle.  The driver wasn’t paying attention.  That driver then fled the scene, leaving her two sons and the older son’s girlfriend and a few observers to deal with the aftermath.)  We were throwing a little house-warming party for my wife’s daughter when she approached us.  We were so proud of my wife’s daughter and her boyfriend for all of their hard work, discipline, getting their own apartment, and taking on the responsibilities of life.  It was a good time for them, and a great reason to celebrate.  We are so proud of ALL of our children, their hard work and discipline, and their incredible choices they consistently make in their personal lives.

We were sitting at a table on our porch.  There were a few other people around.  I explained before that Erin was good at taking us out of our comfort zone, and this was no exception.  She started to ask questions about, and tell us her opinion of, the fact that she thought our youngest sons, who were best friends for years, were doing things they shouldn’t be doing.  Nothing earth-ending, but inappropriate, nonetheless, in her opinion.  I didn’t want to hear it.  She had brought it up at a Halloween party, as well, that we had attended with her and her husband that previous October, and I didn’t want to hear it then, either.

Out of sight, out of mind.  You ever heard that?  Well, I thought that if I didn’t give the perceived negative actions any energy or power or attention, it would fix itself and go away, eventually.  I thought that the possible “bad behavior” would stop when our kids had their fun, learned a few lessons, experienced a little bit of life, made some mistakes, were exposed to some new things, and had the opportunity to do some new things and learn on their own.  I had a different opinion, a different outlook on parenting and life, so I turned a blind eye, partially out of fear and frustration, partially out of the belief that it was something they needed to experience and go through for themselves.  I didn’t want to put a spot light on the possible, “bad behavior.”  I simply viewed it differently than her.

I was short with Erin.  I explained that I wanted to choose to listen to and believe our boys.  I told her I believed our boys were good boys.  She agreed, but I felt like I was rude about it.  Not overly so, but I made it clear that I didn’t want to discuss it further, without quite saying those exact words.  For the next few months, we didn’t communicate at all.  I wanted to give it time in order to process through it all and see what would come of it.  I thought I had the time.  When I got the text from Erin’s husband that Erin had passed away, I was devastated.  This incredible woman was willing to go out on a limb and possibly even lose friends because she wanted to shed light on a problem and come up with possible solutions for the problem with us, and I felt as though I had possibly slighted her.  I felt I had maybe even been a little disrespectful.  In no way did she lose us as friends.  I simply chose not to talk to her for a while, being caught up in the distractions and the business of life, thinking we had time to work through all of this, together.  I was taking the easy option of a simply letting time pass and allowing lessons to be learned.  She preferred the active approach to parenting while I wanted to take the passive approach.  I thought we had time to let things unfold the way I thought they were supposed to.

I only live in guilt and shame for decisions made, as long as I choose to.  The good that came from this situation, the lesson learned, and, “The rest of the story”, is this:  The realization that there might not be much time left to shed some light on any possible problems and come up with some solutions.  Sometimes, it is important to listen to others, show them respect, and choose the difficult things to think, say, and do.

The death of a loved one alters our perceptions.  We are immediately reminded of the fragility of life.  The loss of someone has within it a sort of bitter magic, that allows us to see things differently, and empowers us to see past our judgements of them and to recognize only their true beauty, and their true value and worth, allowing us to see them as they really were all along, full of beauty and perfection, leaving us sometimes wondering why we couldn’t see them in this way, all along.

Losing a loved one has a way of stripping away all that never mattered, revealing ONLY all that really DID.

A wave of memories crashes down over us, as we surf the waves of life the best we can, enveloping us, swallowing us, and sometimes violently tumbling us about beneath the depths, holding us under, not allowing us to come up for breath, and battering us against the corals and the harsh sands below.

When we finally resurface, gasping for air, bloody and scraped, and exhausted from the experience, the air has never tasted sweeter, the sun has never warmed us quite so beautifully, and after resting for a while, we are ready to surf again.

We know what we are getting into.  We know the potential of each wave.  Yet the possibility of the beauty of the experience that comes from really living, and riding that next wave, learning each time how to better navigate and use the wave to our benefit, rather than allowing it to drag us under, empowers us with the courage we need to keep taking risks and to keep trying.  We keep going, even when it hurts.

Death and loss, and the pain and suffering that sometimes accompany them, are inevitable bi-products of experiencing this life.  Death is a not-so-subtle, beautiful reminder that each moment could literally be our last.  

Reminder to self:  Continue to consistently do your best, in EVERY situation.  Forgive yourself and others.  Let go of all attachments.  Listen to others.  Be humble, open, kind, grateful and respectful, to everyone, ALWAYS, but especially to friends and loved ones.  Live each day as if it were your very last.  Accept self and others, FULLY, with no judgment, and no criticism.  BE LOVE, and allow all else to fall away.  Let go and let be.  LIVE, really live.

Today I will behave as if I have no time left.  I will live this day as though it were my last.  I will be respectful, kind, and thoughtful as I choose to think, say, and do something difficult.  I will step out of my comfort zone today, even if it is a simple apology or the expression of love and appreciation for a friend or family member.  Today, and every day, I will BE LOVE.

goodinthehead is also on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.  Follow me there, as well, for daily messages, inspiration, motivation, and reminders.  Please pay it forward, and share any message which may empower someone you love or may care about.  It is through adding value to others by sharing and spreading wisdom, that we become more valuable as individuals, and collectively, as a whole, we all become wiser.

Remember:  Mindset matters.  Character counts.  That which we choose to consistently focus on is what EXPANDS in our lives.  WE CREATE our realities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *