I find great comfort and peace in the notion that love never leaves us. If given the choice, which we are not, of course we would choose to actually love in this life, real time, face to face. Unfortunately this is not always an option. But this truth does not have to prevent or limit us from loving or feeling loved.

My father died one month before my twin brother and I were born. I did not know him. Yet, I do.

I know that he was tall, handsome, and dedicated to family. I know that he worked hard providing for my mom and my older brothers. I know that he loved my older brothers completely and showed up for them in a million different ways with absolute dedication, pride and love even though their father lived just 45 minutes away. I know that he expected a lot from them and was firm and strong in his parenting. I also know that he often drank too much socially and to manage stress.

He and his family had a history of heart problems; he died at 42, his sister in her late 30’s and his father in his early to mid 50’s.

Through this knowledge about who he was and how he lived I have a roadmap to live a healthier more mindful life while assimilating his many strong values into my own life. I experience this knowing as him loving and guiding me from beyond. Like him, I have a strong work ethic, I value and show up for family, and love my children with absolute dedication and pride while being firm, strong, and expecting a lot from them.

I remain aware and mindful of his health history and use this knowledge to guide and inform how I approach and live my life. I try to live a healthy active lifestyle, find productive ways to manage stress, and meet with a cardiologist regularly. He has impacted my life greatly.

I feel loved by him. I do, even though I never met him.

My mother died before I met my husband and had my children. As bittersweet as this truth is, I feel grateful that my husband and children know her as if she were always here with us. They know her sense of humor…what made her laugh and how she made her family and friends laugh. They know and love many of her favorite foods. They respect and appreciate her strength, independence and resilience as told through stories of her life. I always point out when I see her qualities and values in them. They grew up hearing stories, eating foods, celebrating family and friends, listening to music, and enjoying the firsts of every season as if she were right here beside them.

Her light continues to shine through me and through me to those I love. From generation to generation.

The end of life does not mean the end of influence, impact, love. Those that I have loved and lost continue to shape and inform my life. They are forever with me guiding and loving me from beyond. Love never leaves us.