Wednesday, May 3, 2023
What about my shirts and sweaters and shoes? What about the silverware and CDs and pens and power cords that have birthed babies over the years or the bed that Amy and Gary Kohlhepp said I could keep if I moved out of their basement?
Thursday, December 31, 2020
What happens to one’s wisdom and experiences when one dies?
I know we touch and teach people and leave marks of various degrees and help shape others and live on in the hearts of our families and all that, but when someone lives a long time, that person accumulates a great deal of knowledge. Unless he or she writes a book or becomes famous, is that all wasted, just lost, when the person leaves?
I ask because my 83-year-old dad died on Christmas – 72 days after my 80-year-old mom died alone in a regional hospital in Spalding County, Georgia, gasping for air – and I’m afraid. All the people he knew and music he liked and lessons he learned and experiences he had and achievements he amassed and wisdom he gained from eight decades of life – are they just lost with him? He didn’t write any books or give any TED Talks; he touched many people but memories fade and life goes on and I just feel right now like the list of reasons why this was such an indescribable loss not just to me and his other loved ones but to the universe is immeasurably long.
Yes, he left the world a better place. Yes, he loved and was loved, and he was smart and compassionate and strong and interesting and charming and patient and talented and generous. He was multi-faceted and caring and unselfish and genuine and wonderful. He taught me so much about so much. But who’s gonna know this when there’s no Wikipedia page, no statue in a park, no offspring to keep his memory alive ‘cause we’ll be gone at some point too? Who’s going to be aware of all that Jack Diehl knew and saw and learned and was? Blog posts and framed photos don’t convey this.
Everyone dies, I know. And so many people have been lost to Covid. It’s overwhelming, though, to everyone left behind. Because not only do we suffer the immediate, up-close loss of our loved ones – their empty chairs at our dinner tables, their laughs no longer filling our rooms – but collectively we suffer the loss of all that each of them was, all they knew and offered and represented in the bigger scheme of things.
I don’t even know if what I’m writing makes any sense. But it doesn’t make sense to me how someone can live for decades – learning and loving and being and giving – and then just leave one day for good.
There are no buildings with Jack’s name on them, no charitable foundations dedicated to preserving his memory. But he deserved this and so much more. I’m sad that someday no one will know this.
And I’m devastated by how much we’ve lost.