As my mom, Patricia LaBean, and I placed our order for funeral flowers, on that day in May of 2008, she told the florist, “Fifty years ago July, I was here with my boyfriend ordering our wedding flowers!” It seemed like she lived a lifetime with her childhood sweetheart but it didn’t matter, it was all taken away in a moment’s time. We had no idea how to begin grieving the loss of my beloved father and my mom’s soul mate, LaVern LaBean (known by all as Buck). Our lives were shattered by his death.
My mom’s biggest fear was to live by herself after being accustomed to having someone’s company. Suddenly, she was alone! Her advice to anyone who might be frustrated with their loved ones, “You don’t realize what you have until you lose it. You take them for granted because you think you’ll go on together forever and that isn’t the case.” I can appreciate her message, “Be thankful every day for your family!”
Our family of six was now down by one and everything felt incomplete. I felt like my soul had been ripped out of my body. I pushed forward in my busy life and I tried to involve my mom anyway I could. But I couldn’t help thinking, “I knew my father for 38 years and his death felt like my world was over. How can I help my mom when she was married to him for almost 50 years!”
In her words, “It is hardest for me at night when I’m trying to sleep and thoughts go through my mind. I know it is bad to say but sometimes I feel like I’m just existing, waiting to die, waiting for my turn. At first things that reminded me of him like his birthday, songs, certain flowers, a Coke (he retired from Coca-cola) made me sad. But now, they make me happy. I feel him around me and I know I’ll see him again someday. I really miss his sense of humor. He was always such a character, and he kept me laughing all of the time!”
I realize now we can still feel him by keeping his memory alive. It is healing to reminisce about the good times. Even though physically he is not in our lives any longer, he continues to live in our hearts.
We celebrate the miracle of life each year on the anniversary of his death. One year to the day, after our loss, my niece gifted our family with her first born, Kylie Madison Booth. We embrace this blessing, one we’re sure Dad helped orchestrate from beyond the grave!