Death expert Elizabeth Kubler Ross named the five stages of grief, the fifth of which is acceptance. It’s a place you come to once you come to terms with the fact that you can scream and holler until your throat rusts and your tear ducts dry and still your dead aunt will still be your dead aunt. No amount of ranting or questioning or mourning will return our loved ones home to us. So there’s this beast called acceptance. I think you’re there when you find yourself about to cry but instead throw your hands up  while mumbling “oh well, there’s nothing I can do about it. She’s not coming back.” It’s sort of peaceful, almost pretty. A place that saves us a lot of kleenex and helps us to get to work on time. “Oh well, I might as well get up. My husband’s gone for good and I’ve got bills to pay.” Part of my oh-well process has made me conclude that the best way to “get over” death is to love people like they’re dying. After my friend Lorenda passed away suddenly, I became afraid, for just a little while, of my still-living girlfriends. I warned them don’t love me, stay away. I’m afraid you’ll leave me too. But they laughed and hugged my unloveable ass anyway knowing that was just my pain talking and that sooner or later I’d return to my loving senses. And I did but I still like what going through so many deaths has done to me. It’s made me cherish, really cherish, the people in my life who love me. For instance; I rarely hang up the phone without uttering I love you and I mean it. When I say hello to fellow joggers, I am hurt when they don’t respond. My how YOU doing means I want to know how you’re doing, no bs. My post-death hugs are tighter and last longer. My kisses slower and sweeter. I stop tweeting and look at my sons when they speak to me. Each spoonful of vanilla icecream swirls and dances on my tongue. I let laughter shake my whole body. I am alive. I must not forget this. This year I’ll be fifty and that’s a whole lot of years. Let me not waste an hour of whatever time I’ve left. Let my every-morning-girlfriend-talk resonate in my ear and my heart. My life is a wonder. Yours is too. Tomorrow is the last day of your life. Love like it.
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