An Open Letter – That’s Terrible / That’s Beautiful

I found myself saying “that’s terrible” or the word “terrible” in some form a few times throughout the day yesterday.  In striving to live a more mindful, compassionate, and positive existence, isn’t that terrible?

Jokes aside, as the tears streamed in recollection of witnessing such suffering in a very sad passing from this past year, it hit me where I heard the phrase “that’s terrible” from.

My Grandmother.  I touched briefly on her being put in a home but  I didn’t expand too deeply on it, because the writing took me elsewhere in the last open letter.  So let’s explore the origins of “that’s terrible” here and now.

My Grandmother, Grandma, or Gran’ma as she signed cards, would often empathize with different folks and has always been nice, kind, caring to any and all.  I remember once while growing up during a conflict between my Dad and Grandfather, Old, that she expressed with tears in her eyes that she wanted them to just work it out.

Old, bless his Soul, and I had a great relationship.  But he was a pretty intense man and former alcoholic so the dynamic I experienced was much different than what my Dad went through growing up.

Sometimes it’s just hard to shake the ash off from fires of the past.

I was still pretty young and it would take many more years to see more elements to the conflict, but it was a powerful reminder at the time of how much love my Grandma shared.

Old was a pretty epic orator and the man always had a story to tell.  He passed when I was 30 and in those three decades, I only once heard him repeat a story.  LOL, for Grandma, my Dad, my Mom, perhaps heard a few stories more than once, but I imagine it wasn’t very many because up until he passed, he was sharp.

If something ever happened, such as a hardship, or challenge that was taxing for someone Old could be quite vocal about it.  It could be a story on the news, something they heard of from a family member or friend, and many times, it had to do with people passing painfully or experiencing poor health. As his telling of those stories came to an end, Grandma would close with:

“That’s terrible!”

By the age of 31, I’d completed my first manuscript for publication.  Within it, I wrote about many of the different takeaways that age 30 gifted me with that I wished I’d known while navigating my 20s.  Much of it had to do with living and loving more fully on this journey where we’re all dying.  Now on the cusp of 37, the words of a teacher weigh heavy on my shoulders:

“You are only in your 30s, my Dear, your best yet will be surpassed.”

That is true, it has and will continue.  But the flip-side to that, or the balance, is that so will the worst yet.

And that is terrible.

It’s also Life.  Life was not promised to be easy and that which is terrible is a sobering reminder how special and precious Life truly is.  That makes each day a blessing no matter who the political talking heads or celebrities are that live the lives of the rich, the famous, the powerful.  Because the terrible elements of life find us all.  Death awaits each and every one.

And that’s beautiful.

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