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Monday, August 24, 2015

Life's Worth

My mother-in-law passed away last week.  Everyone experiences this kind of loss at some point.  It is never easy.  But I have to believe the difficulties life brings are worth something.

After a four year struggle and many near death experiences, she lay in her hospital bed for over three months.  We noticed her decline on every visit.  She was in pain.  She eventually did not get out of bed.  She eventually accepted her fate.  She did not go home again. She slowly lost interest in all things that brought her happiness.


Her eyes smiled when her 4-year old granddaughter jumped into the hospital bed with her - the last time being two days before she died.  As time passed, her feeble arms getting weaker, she continued to share food - dessert usually - with the little girl that brought her joy.  On every good-bye with her children and their spouses, she said, "Loves ya!"  The nurses were always "some nice."  She was present even when she was tired, until she fell asleep.  She befriended her roommates when she could.  She exuded love even as her body deteriorated and she could no longer take part in this thing we call life.  She had birthday cards for her loved ones until the very end.  She gave.  She loved.

Some say her life wasn't worth living in the end.  She was in a great deal of pain.  I want to believe it was worth living.  I want to believe her final days were worth something.  I want to believe she felt loved and enjoyed something out of the final time she spent here on earth... and it meant something.

I wonder if the worthiness had nothing to do with her own life and everything to do with everyone else's.  She touched people's hearts.  She was adored.  Because she was a decent human being. She put others before herself.  Always.  She is an example to the human race.  She accepted life as it came.  She never judged others.  She gave whenever she could.  She gave extra attention to those who needed it, to those who were down on their luck, to those who others may not have given the same attention.  She was happy.  She was content.  She continued to love even when she was in a great deal of pain.  She continued to bring a smile to others' faces.  She continued to bring her family and friends joy.

She had many visitors in that hospital.  My daughter pranced the halls and played tea party with the ladies who were deteriorating with dementia.  Her visitors were often jovial.  Her daughters helped the staff.  Maybe the worth was there.

Peace quickly came upon her when it was time.  Her children surrounded her.  You could not express the love in that room during those minutes.  Everyone was one.  Any differences of opinion or belief did not matter.  There was a tiny moment, a glimpse, of pure love.  Nothing mattered. Nothing at all except peace.

Impact.  That is what she did.  She made an impact.  She did not try to make an impact.  She did not purposely set out to find her purpose and fulfill it.  She just did.  She was authentic and simply took on whatever crossed her path.  She never announced her successes or difficulties.  She did not desire for things to be different or to stay the same.  I am sure at times she had desires, but they did not stand in the way of her contentment.  She loved her community, her friends, her family, and her life. And she influenced how others live their lives.  Her legacy will live on. People will remember her kindness and it will influence their actions.

Even in the end, when pain overcame her, her life was worth something.  She was in pain, but her suffering was limited.  Because she accepted life as it was presented.

And that is the most worth a life could have.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Tribute to Those that Leave this World Too Early

I remember thinking 45 was pretty old.  I was probably in primary school when my friend's mom turned 40, and I thought she was old.  I don't think so now.  Yesterday was my 45th birthday.  I don't feel much older than in my 20s... except for my aching body.  But my mind - other than foggy brain - feels young.  Oh, OK, I do feel a bit older than 25.  But 45 is still not old.

I have the spirit of a 20 year old.  I dream.  I laugh.  I am as silly as the next person.  I never believe I am too old for anything.  I love learning and continue to learn and change and grow.  I enjoy trying new things - for my 45th birthday, I started taking aerial yoga classes.  And I still plan to travel the world more than I already have.  I have a lot of dreams and plans for the future.

But imagine if you couldn't fulfill those dreams and plans. Imagine if all of a sudden, one day, they were gone.... taken away.  And it was impossible to fulfill any of them anymore.

I know too many people who have lost loved ones too early.

My uncle's partner, Tony, passed away in his sleep a day before my birthday.  He was 51 years old. He had plans and dreams.  He was well.  No signs of sickness of any kind.  His life is ended.  My uncle's plans and dreams of a life with his partner are now over.

So we remember the good times.  And the wonderful person Tony was.  It helps us get through.  He was always smiling - he even smiled with his eyes.  He was a successful entrepreneur.  He was a giving and respectful person.  He helped out my grandmother when she was alive - he cooked for her card friends.  He was an amazing cook.  He had a lot of friends - people liked him.  He loved my uncle.  One of the last conversations I had with him was one of their partnership and commitment. He was a wonderful person with a big heart and a big smile.

Yesterday, I honored Tony by spending my birthday living life as much as I could.  I tried not to take anything for granted.  I dedicated my actions and activities to Tony and all those that lost their lives too early.  Sounds a bit weird now that I type it out... but it was my intention.  And here's how I did it.

  • I began my work day teaching a yoga class.  This is a new shift in my career and I love it.  When class was over, I took a moment to reflect on how lucky I am to have this opportunity to fulfill a dream in life.  I am a novice teacher, I have sooo much more to learn... but I can share what I know now.  And I currently still have the opportunity to continue learning.
  • I returned home to my hugging 21 year old daughter and her boyfriend.  I revelled in it.  I have an amazing relationship with my daughter.  I know not all parents can say that.  I know how lucky I am to have such a beautiful connection with this incredible human being.  She is my teacher in life.
  • I practiced yoga and meditated on the beach with my dear friend - who also brought me lunch for my birthday.  My meditation was one of gratitude for the pure amazingness of just being able to do that.  And for having a long lasting friendship with someone who never judges me... she totally accepts me.  Truly blessed.
  • I took a business call - on the beach - and was open and honest about my services and what I could do to help... and I secured the contract.  Thank-you.  Seriously, business is not easy.  I have struggled with my business, but I have learned to be patient and grateful for whatever is happening because there are a lot of lessons the first few years... and you have to learn them in order to be successful in the future.  There's that word again... future.  I still have one.  Thank-you.
  • I started my aerial yoga classes and I smiled at everyone in class as I learned how to fly.  I sometimes feel quiet and don't really want to be around people, especially when I attend classes alone and others seem to be in groups.  But I was committed to dedicating the day to Tony, so I smiled - like he would I imagine.  And I chatted.  And I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the class.  And, by the way, thank-you for the opportunity.  I drove home smiling.
  • I came home to supper with my beautiful family - my husband, daughters, parents, daughter's boyfriend.  We sang happy birthday and blew out candles on two cakes - well, a lemon pie and a chocolate cake because I love both and my husband is like that.  I could not be more grateful for having my Dad present.  He's had a difficult year with his health, and we are all so lucky he's with us.  And my husband, who worked all day, arranged, cooked, and cleaned... told me to sit any time I offered to help.  I lucked out.  A truly beautiful spirit of a man.  And my daughter, who decorated and simply makes sure I'm always taken care of.
  • I put my 4-year old to bed and fell asleep with her... actually, I think it was before her.  It really doesn't get much better.

As I turned 45, I contemplated on how quickly things can change.  I spent the day doing things I love with people I love.  Even things I did not love (my email went wonky and I spent over an hour trying to fix it), I did with gratitude... sort of... I did my best anyway... I did not freak out at least :)  Isn't that the way we can live every day?

I have learned that having an amazing life has nothing to do with doing BIG things.  It has everything to do with loving big with your heart wherever you are doing whatever you are doing.

Maybe I do feel older than 25.  When I was 25, I may not have seen how wonderful a day my yesterday was because I may have wished I was traveling the world or jumping out of a plane or eating a strange food in a strange land with strangers.  I still think all of those things are amazing. But so is being here now doing what I do with those I love.

Some people are taken from this world much too early.  Tony is one of them.  I believe the way to honor them and help live out their lives is to fully live ours.

Peace and love