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.



Reflection Questions

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.

About sstyves

A Canadian prairie girl rooted in Ignatian spirituality, I seek God in all things. Whether I catch a glimpse of the Divine and delight in its presence in nature or in the beauty of an encounter with someone, I am ever so grateful that I can recognize the Creator. I greet each new day with hope and happiness, expecting blessings and miracles because I am created to praise, love and serve God. This blog is one way of realizing that through my writings, prayers, and photography. To God be the Glory!
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6 Responses to Squirelly

  1. Monica says:

    This is a wonderful post. Your words that sometimes it “simply sucks” and craving “the frivolous art of making memories” say it all for me. Thanks again Suzanne and wishing you the best. xo

  2. Karen Wheadon says:


    I can only imagine imagine the difficult situation you find yourself immersed in, particularly with still having aging parents who require some care….as if your illness alone was not enough to deal with.

    I sense your feeling of being overwhelmed, some anxiety and fear. All that is understandable. Like many of your friends, we are grateful that you are choosing to live in the moment and celebrate life as you navigate your way through challenges and journey towards death. You write a deeply honest and heartfelt post. I struggle with how to write the right words in response.

    Thinking of you in my heart and prayers every night, Love, Karen

    Sent from my iPad


    • sstyves says:

      Tonight was a better night at my parents’ place. We navigate these white water rapids with crash test helmets some days…other days, the water is much calmer.

      Words sometimes fail and that is ok, Karen. I know your heart is here with me, despite the distance. Much love to you, my friend.

  3. Suzanne,
    How beautiful your understatement that things are “a wee bit tumultuous some days.” I am so moved by your courageous claiming of your truth. And I will cling to your inspiring word to “celebrate life while journeying toward death.” I ache for you and your parents. I pray that all details will fall into place for peaceful days.
    Sending hugs and much love,

    • sstyves says:

      I suppose it is indeed an understatement. 😉

      As I stopped by my parents’ again tonight I am struck how everything is in constant movement. We are all in better spirits. Sometimes the stress just needs an outlet and we can carry on courageously. Thanks for your prayers and love, Joyce. They mean the world to me. xo.

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