Saturday, January 11, 2020

New Year, new strategy

As a nurse, I have often encountered death.  It was always tough, even when the death was expected. As a medical person, we often strive to fight death. We tend to see it as the enemy to be conquered.
I don't do well with unexpected outcomes and for that reason steered clear of working in the Emergency Room where, by definition, you never knew what could come rolling through the door.
The ICU was also on my Never list because those patients were gravely ill and their condition could turn sour in a heartbeat.
But my husband thrived in that environment and he loved his time working night shift in the ICU.
But then there would be nights when chaos reigned. Sometimes, it seemed to be contagious and before the night was over, several people may have gone on to Heavenly Home.
John referred to those nights as the times when Jesus was making rounds.
Maybe it's just me but it seems Jesus has been making rounds in the celebrity world lately.
Was it just my perception because the majority seemed to be my peers in age?
So, I checked some statistics.
Did you know that, on average, across the world 6,316 people die each hour?
Each. Hour.
We never hear about 99.99% of them but they are important to those who loved them.
They leave behind a hole where once their presence was felt.
Spouse or sibling, parent or friend. Even our pets are missed and mourned.
So, then my mind went further down this rabbit hole.
What if each of those people had a chance to not die? What would they have done?
Or not done?
To put it more personally, what if right now, this very minute you or I were faced with this choice?
Stay or go?
What would you do?
And if you stayed, would you do anything differently?

I devoted a whole chapter in my book to the "gifts of grief" and while that may seem like an odd thing, it really isn't. Grief allows us to see things in a new way. For me, it has meant evaluating how I deal with my immediate world. 
I am trying to no longer get wrapped up worrying about small stuff and holding on to things that no longer serve me. I’m not saying this is easy. Believe me, if there was a prize for worry, I win.
All the time. 
Don't even bother to apply.
And I ruminate which is a perfect way to waste energy.
So, my goal is to let go of things that don't matter in the long run and speak out and up and fix what I can - and then move forward.
Changing my ways will take work. But the result will be so freeing. I imagine this is how our loved ones feel on the Other Side. They can see things from a perspective that we don’t have - yet. 
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t try.
So that is part of my resolution for this new year.
Letting go of stuff - emotional and real. Because my garage and closets really need to be cleaned out too. Holding on to physical things that we no longer need is another form of useless baggage that saps our soul.
Maybe you also have some baggage you can get rid of.
Hey, it's worth a try.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Making a tea of Christmas memories

Tea is made by steeping leaves in hot water to make something new.
My Christmases now are made up of steeping myself in old memories to warm my heart and throwing in a little new to add some spice.
I bought a new pre-lit Christmas tree and new angels this year.
And I surrounded myself with happy thoughts from Christmases past.
They warm my heart and I am grateful to have them.
Before you start complimenting me on being so "together", let me tell you - the sadness is there.
I miss John very very much.
But this is life now.
So we make the best of a not so good situation.
I treasure what I was blessed to have.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Be Here Now

Today the world is mourning the passing of Baba Ram Dass. He was the modern day guru who was transformed in the 60's and 70's from Richard Alpert to the man we know today as Ram Dass.
He is famous for many wonderful teachings but the one I am most familiar with, and touched by, was his philosophy of living in the moment told beautifully in his book Be Here Now.
It's a way of life that I both aspire to and struggle with but it's definitely worth working on.
And as this holiday season draws near, that philosophy takes on new meaning for me.
We can mourn what we don't have and who we miss or we can celebrate who we were blessed with and who and what are still in front of us.
We can treasure and be grateful for what we have and what we can share.
We can hug and love those who still travel this world with us for some day we or they will be gone too.
There is time for sadness.
There is time for joy.
Both can exist at the same.
We are our brother's keeper.
And as Baba Ram Dass once said "We are all just walking each other Home."
Thank you for teaching us.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

The preciousness of Now

John Pavlovitz recently wrote movingly about valuing what is and is not important in an essay entitled "On The Day I Die". I recommend it.
Because it's so true.
His essay reminded me in very stark terms of the day I came home from the airport after John had passed away.
John had died while we were vacationing in NY, visiting family.
After going through the ordeal of paramedics and coroner and packing up our things from the hotel room and making phone calls and changing flights and then traveling 5 hours by air all alone, I finally arrived home in Arizona.
As we always had done, I entered our house through the garage. The garage had been John's hobby place. He loved working on old cars and old car parts and had set up a little workshop in our garage. We always laughed about that because it took up all the space. Neither of our cars were ever parked in it. The garage was John's Place.
He had set up saw horses and plywood and made himself a large workspace for tools and air compressor and liquids and sponges, etc.
Now, as I walked through the garage on the way to the door to enter our home, I saw all the things as he had left there before we had embarked on our trip.
The tools.
The car parts.
The solvents.
The sandpaper.
The sponge.
The half-filled water glass.
Everything was there as if he were going to come back at any moment and pick up where he had left off.
Except he wasn't.
He never would again.
Seeing those things stopped me in my tracks and impressed upon me, probably more than anything else in the last 18 hours had done - John was gone.
Our life together on this earth was over.
Forever over.
And just as John Pavlovitz has said, there is a lesson to be learned.
We don't know when our life will end.
Oh, we can surmise sometimes.
Maybe we have a terminal illness or a chronic condition and we assume that will take us.
But will it?
Who can say that the terminally ill patient just given 6 months to live won't be hit by a car and killed the day she walks out of her doctor's office after hearing that news?
I'm not trying to be morbid. Just practical.
We really don't know when and how our life will end.
So, we must use that knowledge to make the most of every day.
I know my John did.
He inspires me. I am trying to live by his example.
It's not easy. I tend to worry - a lot and often about stupid things. But that worry robs me of so much. It robs me of enjoying what is in front of me.
Ekhart Tolle in his powerful book The Power of Now speaks about this. His message is simple but powerful - living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment.
RIGHT NOW all is well. Right now, I have all I need. I have food and shelter. My bills are paid. My animals are healthy and safe with me. My health is good. I am content and cared for. Right now, all is well.
Maybe this is too Scarlett O'Hara-ish but right now, I need to practice this. I know I have less days in front of me than behind me.
They deserve my attention.
Some day, others will have to pack up the things that I leave behind.
I pray I used my time well.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

So much to be thankful for

This time of year is very hard. When friends and family are gathering to celebrate, John's absence is even more acute.
John loved the holidays. I think he loved Thanksgiving the best.
He LOVED turkey.
I am so grateful to have so many happy memories.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Memories of love

Perhaps love is like a resting place
A shelter from the storm
It exists to give you comfort
It is there to keep you warm
And in those times of trouble
When you are most alone
The memory of love will bring you home
Perhaps love is like a window
Perhaps an open door
It invites you to come closer
It wants to show you more
And even if you lose yourself
And don't know what to do
The memory of love will see you through
Oh, love to some is like a cloud
To some as strong as steel
For some a way of living
For some a way to feel
And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don't know
Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of pain
Like a fire when it's cold outside
Or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you
And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don't know
Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of pain
Like a fire when it's cold outside
Or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: John Denver
Perhaps Love lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Reservoir Media Management Inc