January 8, 2011

Evidence of a Life Well Lived



My imagination was captured by this leaf in decay and I was reminded of the beauty in death.





There is no easy way to write this post.  My husband's uncle died just before the Christmas holiday and his passing has been difficult, to say the least.  I was reminded though of the beauty in our uncle's death...he had been sick for a very long time and was suffering despite the loving care given to him by his wife and sons.  He knew the end of his time here was near and as a man of faith, he didn't fear his journey.

Since his death, there have been many beautiful moments observed and our family is truly blessed to have witnessed such a love.  Many stories and fond memories have been shared.  Our uncle had a keen sense of humor and loved a good story...he possessed a fierce memory that no detail escaped and he was always ready to share his observations.  He was a pilot of fighter jets and bravely served his country.  But mostly, he was a man who loved God and his family and that love was returned abundantly to him and shone brightly during the time of his death.  I've never witnessed such a raw, beautiful love as I did in the hours after he died and that memory will stay with me always.  It was evidence of a life well lived...it was a testimony to what is important in this life...it was a glimpse of human frailty triumphing over horrible pain and sadness and finding joy and peace.


As I poured a cup of tea, another detail caught my eye...It's the journey...on the tea label.  Yes.  It's the journey that is so important.  Even when it's messy and confusing, even when we make mistakes and don't always do or say the right thing, we do the best we can and love anyway.  It's not perfect but there is beauty in imperfection...and love transcends all.  His life wasn't perfect but in the end he died knowing he was dearly loved...what better ending could you write for yourself?





As we say goodbye today, we'll remember your deep intelligence, your smile and quick wit..your ability to laugh at us and yourself...but above all, we'll remember your example of a life well lived. 

34 comments:

  1. As I was looking at my sunflowers just now, I was thinking about how old yet beautiful they seem. There is some beauty in that withered look. That last photo was a beautiful shot of happy moments.

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  2. Cat, I am sorry for your family's loss. It's hard to find beauty in it, but your post does. I lost a beloved brother in law in November, and I continue to look for ways to accept it and help my sister to get on. Thanks for this post.

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  3. One, the last photo was taken in Oct during my daughter's birthday party. We were so happy that he was able to be here to celebrate...it was bittersweet and beautiful.

    Thank you Laurrie. I remember your post about your brother in law and I was deeply moved by it. Your love for him is evident and beautiful and I loved the tribute that it was to him. Death is so hard and we all come at it feeling differently - your post gave voice to the difficulty though and it too was an example of human frailty overcoming pain to find peace. Thank you.

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  4. Cat, what a beautiful post. You are not only a wonderful photographer, but an exception writer.

    I'm glad you used those two photos that I took for your aunt. The black and white of her hand on his arm was probably my favorite shot that I took. It just seemed to say so much about them.

    Love to all of your family, Cat.

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  5. A moving tribute to your uncle and of a family who is full of love. I hope one day someone can say of me that I lived a life "well lived"

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  6. Dear Cat, Please accept my condolences for your loss. Your post is a beautiful tribute to your husband's uncle. Your poetic photography illustrates so perfectly the sense of a journey . . . your first and next to the last photos to me are the most powerful. It is a known universal truth that to be loved and to give love are the most important human accomplishments. Your loving post is yet another confirmation of that truth.

    "I've never witnessed such a raw, beautiful love as I did in the hours after he died and that memory will stay with me always. It was evidence of a life well lived...it was a testimony to what is important in this life...it was a glimpse of human frailty triumphing over horrible pain and sadness and finding joy and peace. "

    So beautifully written.
    May that love continue to be a comfort to you in this sad time. Thinking of you, Carol

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  7. A beautifull tribute and a wonderful reminder to focus on what's truly important in life. The assurance that Jesus offers makes all the difference, yet I hope I'll face the end with such grace when my time comes.

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  8. a beautiful tribute and important reminder--it's all about the journey!

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  9. Cat, how beautifully you have expressed your love for your husband's uncle while illuminating some profound truths for us all. When my own uncle, who was probably my greatest gardening inspiration and a major support in every sense to me and my family, died after 3 years suffering with Parkinson's, I thought I would feel relief. But all there was was a terrible sense of loss..."raw, beautiful love." Death is so final. You are so right, life is a journey with every moment of equal importance. That's what I love about gardening: it's a process not a product. All my best, Carolyn

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  10. I must admit that I am drawn to the beautiful picture of the decaying leaf. For some time now, I find myself delighting in so many stages of life. Perhaps that is something that happens as one grows older... which I am, with each passing day. Please accept my most heartfelt sadness for your loss. Your poetic words give us each a glimpse into a life well lived... to love and be loved is divine. May you always find joy in your sweet memories.

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  11. Cat a beautiful tribute, he sounds like a wonderful man with a wonderful loving family, it's hard for those left here but it sounds as though you will all support each other and remember, Frances x

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  12. What beautiful tribute you wrote about your husband's uncle. I hope my loved ones will speak such loving kind words about me when it is my time to pass. Hope you are comforted at your time of loss knowing he is no longer suffering and is at peace.

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  13. A loving and beautiful tribute to your uncle, my condolences to your family. He had a life well lived and lots of love to give and received in return.

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  14. Dear Cat,
    thank you for those perfect words. I don't know how to say those things even in German. I know I will miss him and it breaks my heart I couldn't see him one last time.
    My most treasured memories are how he always answered the phone when I called with "Hallo, wie geht's?" (How are you?) and one time when I visited he had bought a German flag and hung it outside the front door right next to the American one.
    I am so grateful he was my father in law and I could be part of his well lived life. I will never forget him.

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  15. What a beautiful post and a loving tribute. I was reminded of my father and his death this past March. Yes, love transcends all and it's the journey that is so important. Your pictures are wonderful.

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  16. This was such a wonderful tribute and I am deeply saddened for your loss. Memories are a wonderful thing and your images of that happy moment for your husband's uncle will endure. That photo of him showed a tender moment.

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  17. Dear all, I wish I had the energy to respond to each of you right now but it's been a long day...but please know that your kind words and condolences will be shared with my family and they will treasure your heartfelt warmth. Thank you so much for your kindness.

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  18. There is no better ending than to know you are loved! What a wonderful, thoughtful post. I love the last photo - they look happy and peaceful. Thanks for sharing this!!

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  19. It sounds like one of those cases where the phrase "He died well" is appropriate.

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  20. Cat,
    Thank you for sharing the tribute to your husband's uncle. I am sorry for your family's loss. Your writing and pictures are beautiful and I hope the memories you all have of him are a comfort.
    Hugs,
    Annie

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  21. I am so sorry for your families loss. It is always so hard to see those we love leave. Knowing that he had a wonderful life, filled with love, family and faith in his journey helps.It is a lovely tribute to his life and memory that your have such wonderful thoughts and memories of him.To have been loved in our lives is the best thing that any of us could hope for and it sounds like he was.

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  22. A beautiful memorial post and tribute, Deb, and your final sentence says it all ... 'a life well lived'. Please know you are in my thoughts. I have lost several dear ones this past year and though I still wear a heavy heart, smile remembering how they touched me.

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  23. My condolences about your husband's uncle.

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  24. What a beautiful post Cat, a lovely way to celebrate a man who was clearly much loved and who died surrounded by love. Who could ask for more. I hope the happy memories are a deep comfort to you all as you mourn the lack of that humour, those stories, the man.

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  25. I was deeply moved by this beautiful post, Cat. It truly is all about the journey. It's never perfect but it's always good. And we are not promised tomorrow. Today is all we've got. My deepest condolences to you and your family for your loss.

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  26. My condolences to you and your family Cat. The black and white photo of one arm embracing another is very touching. It could be anyone we know and love.

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  27. It is indeed the journey and the moments we share all along the way with family and friends that makes us who we are. What a lovely tribute.

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  28. Strangely enough there is sometimes beauty in death, when we have the peace knowing that faith has saved. It is hard to explain, but you expressed it so... beautifully. The leaf is such a beautiful illustration, as well. The Lord bless you and keep you...and give you peace.

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  29. Cat -- incredible. Thank you, so much, for sharing.

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  30. Cat, i love this post is written and your photos are very good esp the tea label and the decaying leaf, very artistic. We also had 2 consecutive deaths around Christmas in the family circle, an uncle and a cousin. Now another cousin is undergoing chemotherapy, it is a bit depressing but life goes on. As they said, everyone goes there, it is just a matter who goes in first. God bless.

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  31. Your tribute to your uncle is very moving. In the hours before he died, my brother, too, was surrounded by family and friends who loved him. Yes, that is best evidence of a life well lived. I am sorry for the loss of your loved one, but I know there is comfort in knowing he is at peace, in a much better place. God bless you.

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  32. A very moving post Cat, and a wonderful tribute. We would do well to have lived a life where happy memories remain and where we've made a difference, like your uncle obviously did. My condolences.

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  33. Very beautiful post!
    He does looks so happy on that last photo.

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  34. This was a beautiful tribute to your uncle. It's always a comfort to know our loved one knew God.

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Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

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