• Bob Ginsberg

Defining Moments

Those who have suffered the loss of loved ones often reflect on moments they had together with those they now mourn. Some of these remembrances are of trivial and mundane encounters, simple markers of what we once took for granted. However, other reflections involve deeper moments of clarity that were defining moments in our lives together.


I was thinking about such a moment today as I was driving home from the market in the car that belonged to my deceased wife Phran. A little over a year ago we bought an exotic car. Although Phran shunned most material trappings she always dreamed of owning a Maserati. I never could figure out why, as the cars are way too expensive and quite impractical. Perhaps the design of the car was the attraction, or there could have a deeper explanation. Whatever the reason, Phran never requested anything for herself, worked absurdly long hours in her pursuit of supporting the bereaved and educating the public, and if anyone ever deserved something nice it was Phran.


After relocating to our new home, I decided that we needed to make this happen and we both searched out and found the car of her dreams. After owning the car for a few weeks, we decided to celebrate Phran’s birthday in a beautiful restaurant that overlooked magnificent sunsets. After we finished an utterly superb meal, she asked me to drive her new car home. We navigated the winding roads that hugged the shoreline, the bright stars and full moon providing the perfect amount of illumination, and we blasted music that surrounded and uplifted us both. The moment was perfect, and my heart rejoiced in seeing Phran so relaxed and happy.


Yet, I could not fall asleep later that night. A nagging sense of despair prevailed that I could not identify. I eventually reasoned that my unrest was due to feeling guilty about associating material possessions with happiness. Intellectually I knew that this was a trap. After all, for the eighteen years following the death of my daughter I knew that physical possessions had little meaning in the grand scheme of things. When you are stripped down to nothing you instead focus on what truly matters, love, compassion, and family.


But today, less than six months after Phran passed to the spirit world, my perspective has changed. I am open to the possibility that, despite my general lack of intuitiveness, on a subconscious level I knew that this experience was a defining moment. There was no logical way to assume that Phran would soon fall ill. She was the model of good health, fastidious in taking care of her body, and a powerhouse of energy. And yet, knowing is quite different from logical reasoning and assumption.


My other insight today was that, despite having little use for belongings as I grieve, having possessions is not something that should provoke guilt or fear. They are just things. It matters little what the vehicle is that moves one towards exploration, understanding, and meaning.

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