Recently while driving, I heard the song Photograph by Ringo Starr. As Ringo stated many years ago, he and George Harrison wrote that song together, but it took on a new meaning for Ringo after George’s death from cancer. As I listened to the song’s words, I heard that haunting line, “All I’ve got is a photograph, and I realize you are not coming back anymore.” I thought of that line as a stark reminder of my journey. Yes, like my brother, widowers, and anyone who has lost a loved one, the harsh, stark reality is that your loved one is not returning anymore. It’s a reality that brings tears and pain. As I continue my journey, however long it may be, any opportunity to reflect on the beauty and meanings I find in the many photographs my wife captured as I page through our photo album, and each of our children’s albums.
So many birthday parties, holiday celebrations, anniversaries, and other milestones. Parties from New Year’s Eve, occasions when we traveled, such good fun, joyous memories that are forever etched in my mind. Am I sad that they are part of my past? Yes, to some degree, but they are also a rich part of my life. Those memories illicit so many stories about things that occurred during those celebrations. I remember fondly the faces of relatives who have passed on and recall their unique personalities, sense of humor, funny jokes they played on each other, and maybe more importantly, the wisdom they taught me.
I remember my wife, who loved celebrating holidays and birthdays, making sure everyone had a great time. She was the host and, of course, did the most, so by the time she could eat and enjoy the festivities, she would be exhausted. She would rest her head on my shoulder and catch a few winks, knowing she had made the occasion special. I look back with gratitude for the times we celebrated those special occasions.
If there is one lesson grief has taught me that I share with others, it’s that I need to be grateful for the gifts I was given. I am thankful that I could share in others joy, be a part of my children’s special days, celebrate holidays, and enjoy the gift of family and friends. In the early days of grief, it’s not an idea you accept. I certainly did not, but I have changed as time has passed, and I have learned how to grow in my grief.
I thank God, my brothers in this unique group, and others who helped me realize gratitude’s importance. I had a loving, devoted, and selfless wife and three wonderful children, two of whom are still alive and doing well. I have good friends and colleagues who reach out to me regularly and support me, and a grief counselor who always checks in on me and offers constant support.
I love looking at those pictures and feeling the love I shared with my wife and many family members and friends. I find hope, comfort, and love when I look at those pictures. My words of encouragement are simple: “Be grateful for what you were given and share it with others.