No, I'm not talking about whether or not someone lives on after they die.
I'm thinking more along the lines that we can live after our loved ones die. Not just survive (of course, at first you're thrown into survival mode for a while), but truly live.
My older brother, sister-in-law, niece, and younger sister drove four hours from Utah to visit us the day after Cora was born. They were our closest family, and one day was all that they could manage (well, they stayed the night, so I guess it was technically 2 days, but they left early the next morning). I remember distinctly sitting at lunch with them. I was sitting next to my niece, who was 7 at the time, and we were laughing about something. I don't remember what. My sister-in-law looked at me with sad eyes and said "You're still in shock, aren't you?"
"Why do you say that?" I asked.
"Because you're smiling and laughing." I don't think I said anything then, but I remember thinking Why shouldn't I laugh when I'm spending time with niece?
I look back through pictures of the summer after Cora died, and I can pinpoint those times when I did what I did while with my niece in that restaurant: lived truly in the moment, enjoying my immediate surroundings, not thinking about what was or what should have been. I remember camping with another sister-in-law (my husband's sister this time). We were goofing off in the tent, and I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. It didn't last long though, something would happen and the sadness crept back in, and I would feel guilty.
I was watching the movie Raising Helen not long ago. I saw it in the theater in 2004 when it first came out, so my perception of it this go around was a bit different.
Helen's sister and her husband die at the beginning of the movie, leaving Helen (a single party girl working at a modeling agency) with custody of their three grieving children.
A very poignant part of the movie is when she's talking to her nephew about why he refuses to play basketball anymore. He explained that he and his father played, and he just felt he couldn't play without him.
Helen then says, "Every time you do something you enjoyed with them, every time you smile, every time you laugh, all of their hopes and dreams for you come true. If you stop doing all those things because they died, it makes their dreams die."
It makes Cora happy when I enjoy playing with her siblings. Yes, it would have been great to have Cora here too, but it would be worse if her death caused me to stop enjoying life.
If she were here, she'd be laughing with us. So why shouldn't I laugh?