Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
Robin Williams died this week. Too early. He was in pain. Hard for us all out here who didn't know him personally to imagine this, seeing only what he gave us in his performances - so much laughter, so much character, so much life. But he was. Hard not to think about his widow, and his family, suffering this loss in their private, personal lives. And it brings depression to the forefront, this week. So as we mourn the loss of this spectacular talent, maybe there will be some work done, some awareness brought forth, to help someone else in need out there. I think Mr. Williams might be glad of that, if anything else.
My heart goes out to all who are suffering this debilitating condition. I know there are many causes for depression. I can only speak now as a widow, but I am aware that depression affects many of us. Because loss of a spouse is a terrible, life-changing, tragic event that can send even the strongest of us into a deep and dark abyss.
Mr. Williams is known for many performances, one of which was a teacher in the Dead Poets Society. In that film, which incidentally also deals with suicide, he teaches his students the meaning of the Latin term carpe diem, or "seize the day", by having them read the poem I quoted above from Robert Herrick. Time, and life, are fleeting. Boy that is sure true.
Lauren Bacall also died this week, of a stroke at age 89. Also immensely beautiful and talented, her death got lost a little in the media, coming so close on the heels to Mr. Williams' unexpected demise. But Ms. Bacall has a story too. She lost her love, Humphrey Bogart, after only 12 years of marriage. She was only 20 when they married; he was 45. I do wonder about her pain after she lost Bogie. I suspect she never stopped missing him, but looking back on her life, she gathered many more rosebuds, I think.
These are celebrity stories. But they are also personal stories. It doesn't matter how famous someone is, or isn't. It's just true that death affects us. There are a lot of people out there in deep pain and grief that we never hear about. We in the widowed community live with death. We know it. We are scarred by it. We think about it. And we are perhaps not as surprised when other people die. It doesn't make it any easier, if another friend, family member, or even celebrity passes away. But we know: it happens.
Mike gathered a lot of rosebuds in his life. The way he lived, in full love and joy especially in his last years, will never stop resonating for me as I struggle to move forward after his loss. So I am out here myself, attempting to seize as many days as I can. It's not easy. Roses have thorns, for one thing. Because no matter what future happiness I find, I will never stop grieving for Mike.
I am dating someone I didn't expect, or look for. He is a rose that literally fell into my lap. But there it is. I'm thankful for it, even though it doesn't end the pain of losing my dear Michael. He will always be in my heart. And my new guy knows this. I think some people who knew Mike and me as a couple don't get that...yet. Hopefully some day they will. I can't say I know what will happen in any long term kind of way yet, but I'm just seizing days as they come.
In fact, I'm about to leave on a trip with my new guy. We talked at length about life, how fleeting it is, how important it is for us to try and visit with our parents, to take this trip while we can, while they are still here, and even, while we are still here. Because all our futures are uncertain. We none of us know how long we have. So we are going. We are still new, together, and it's not cheap coming from way out here in Hawaii, but we are going.
Our primary purpose is to visit with family. Secondary is a chance to rest. To take a break. To get off our rock of an island, to get away from the day-to-day that we've both been dealing with, to see the world a little, maybe to share each other's lives with each other a little more. To gain some perspective on it all.
All I am doing is living, day to day. It's all I can do. There are people out there, people dear to me, who are going through deeply painful losses as well - and I know, that's all they are doing too. Just scraping along. But I hope, little by little, we can all find a new rose now and then, amidst all the pain.
It's all we any of us can do.