This journey is a wee bit tumultuous some days. Last night I read a little bit from Kara Tippet’s book, And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye.
A fabulous friend gave me this book and I am grateful for Kara’s honest reflections while she was undergoing treatment. I can relate to much of her struggles and share her joy. I think she had it right–celebrating life is the only thing I know how to do in the midst of this long goodbye.
She talked about her ugly self at one point–that person whose harsh voice spews out loveless words in unkind tones. I cannot say that it happens often to me yet but my ugly self does exist. I was saying to friends over the weekend I have less patience for stupid behaviour. I find myself wanting to draw attention to the contradictory statements people make. It is definitely not a lovely side of me.
Yesterday was a hard day. I had gone over to my parents and my ugly side did not come out. My compassionate side did. I left aching though. I am acutely aware of how much stress my illness adds to my parents as individuals and as a couple. Add to this, their own health concerns and it is not a pretty picture. If you throw into the mix my inability to be present to them in their old age, the feelings can get dark. I wanted to have a bit of a crying jag as I drove away.
Today I am a bit better, though my family doctor wondered if I needed to touch base with my social worker sooner than later. Really, the feelings were pretty raw still this morning. I feel helpless in watching their pain and I have to say simply that it sucks. I hate the fact that I will not be able to help them transition through ill health and to their own deaths. They have given much to me over the decades and when it is their time to receive, I will probably not be here. That makes me a bit squirrelly.
After my doctor’s appointment, I released my angst. The health concerns are not yet confirmed. The questions of where to live are yet to be explored. Whether I will die first is yet to be seen. I am best if I stay in the moment and at this moment, we know nothing. My parents’ anticipatory grief is best handled by professionals so I will guide them in that direction. What is key to this present moment is making it as beautiful as I can as often as I can. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with the number of people who wish to spend time with me right now. It is not that I do not want to see people but I am getting more clarity about who I want to spend time with.
I am also very aware that I must work on finishing up a few tasks, such as packing up my office. I am behind on emails. I would still like to thank some people properly for the gifts received at the party. Travel plans are taking shape again and yet I need to find a different place to live and time to pack. In the middle of all these competing pieces, I had a clear vision that I needed to go down to a funeral in the USA for the sister of a dear friend because that is what my heart said I must do. That insight reminds me of celebrating life during this long goodbye. Some of the events that present themselves are easily discerned.
I hope to know best how to celebrate life while journeying towards death. I hope we all figure out this mystery. I need to do the practical tasks but want to also spend some time on the frivolous art of making awesome memories with the people who count in my life. I still want to take risks and live vulnerably. There are no guarantees for any of us except one–none of us make it out alive. I want to look back on my life–I want you to look back on my life too–and like Kara, know it was beautiful. That is also my deepest desire for you as you look back on your life.
What about your life is especially beautiful right now?
Is anything making you squirelly right now? Can you live in the moment despite this?
God, you created the world and said it was good. You created my life and I say it is more than good. It is a beautiful blessing and I thank you. Amen.