I’ve been saying goodbye to a loved one, and I’m feeling really tired.
Part of my fatigue is no doubt due to an intense travel schedule during the past week – I flew to Pennsylvania to help conduct a memorial service for my youngest brother Otto. That meant I had to deal with the usual stresses of airline security, crowded airports, and inconvenient timing.
I had a late connection coming back home to Florida. My Uber driver dropped me off at 2:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
I’m still trying to get back onto a regular sleep schedule. That has added to my weariness as well.
But on top of that, I’ve been getting a first-hand understanding of just how physically exhausting grief can be. It’s really taken me by surprise.
A Sudden Departure
The biggest surprise of all, though, was the fact that Otto died in the first place. He passed away suddenly on July 26, while he was vacationing in the North Carolina mountains. With him were his three adult children, his daughter-in-law, and his granddaughter, who will be 2 years old in October.
The day before he died, the whole crew took a day trip to visit with our parents, who are both in their early 90’s. Our other two siblings joined them there. It was a great family gathering.
It was also a wonderful opportunity for saying goodbye, although nobody knew that’s what they were doing at the time.
I missed that occasion, however. So I was glad that I had a chance to go deliver the eulogy at Otto’s memorial service last Sunday in Pennsylvania. He and I had been really close, even though I was 12 older than him and even though we spent most of our years widely separated by geography.
It was truly rewarding for me to be so closely united with him, and to be a part of the final celebration of his life as we were saying goodbye to Otto.
It was also good to get better acquainted with my niece and nephews. With their Dad gone now, I’m sure we’ll find a need for stronger connections in future years.
An Excuse To Slow Down
And in a way I’m also grateful for the grief and the fatigue. They’ve slowed me down a bit. In the process I’ve found a much-needed opportunity for quiet reflection. I’ve been thinking about Otto, of course, but also about family and love and the remarkable comfort of the cycles in our lives.
As we were saying goodbye during the memorial service, Otto’s son Steven read aloud some verses from the great astrological book of Ecclesiastes. They keep running through my mind:
“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. . . .”