Tag Archives: Death

REVELATIONS IN THE ER

LOVE IS THE “BOTTOM LINE”

January 7, 2017

“Life is fragile.” “Life is precious.” “Don’t take life (or your relationships) for granted.” Common, rather overused cliches, even if true.

And then suddenly one afternoon you stand up from placing a plant on the floor, step back, are in the middle of a sentence asking your husband something, and you can’t finish the sentence. And then you realize you can’t move. You can’t talk, you can’t move.

It only lasted a minute, less probably. But when I finally could move again and talk, I felt strange, almost like I wasn’t fully in my body. Husband’s eyes are huge and he is insisting on calling 911, or at least taking me to the ER. I said, “I’m still in my pajamas! I’m not going anywhere without taking my shower and getting dressed! And besides, I’m fine now.”

But I knew what had just happened wasn’t okay. Then, I started doubting exactly what had just happened. I seemed fine now. But during my shower I realized I again felt “off”–like my body was a stranger. I started to cry and didn’t know why. I was trembling, and didn’t know why. I reached up for my shampoo and my right hand suddenly decided it wanted a vacation. It obeyed, but rebelliously, like a child dragging it’s feet and trying to go somewhere you’re not, and only because it could hear the wrath of God rising inside me and got scared.

Me and my hand argued for the next 10 minutes as I finished my shower and dried my hair. By the time I tearfully headed for the closet it had given in and decided to act normal again. As my husband drove me to the ER, I sat on my side of the car shaking violently–from cold or fear, or maybe just cold fear. This fast, I thought, this fast I could end up being unable to write, or maybe speak, or walk.

More morbid thoughts rushed in on the heels of those. This fast I could have to leave this life I know in this body. Inside I started screaming–“I’m not done! My kids still need me. My grandbabies still need me. My husband still needs me. I’m not done with the work I came here to do. I can’t leave; I WON’T leave…and I need my body whole and functional!”

When we got there, I marched into that ER shaking like a dry leaf in a strong Autumn wind–but on my own two feet. By sheer force of will I passed every damn test they gave me. As the afternoon wore on, with CT scans and blood work and a hundred questions to answer, as mad and determined as I was, I couldn’t stop shaking. I also felt embarrassed. “There’s nothing wrong with me,” I thought, “and here I am in this hospital, having all these tests and upsetting my kids.” Per my request my husband had notified them since I didn’t know what was happening to me, and unbeknownst to me, news of the event was hitting Facebook scaring the bejeebers out of my friends.

As I lay in the ER for the afternoon, I thought about my family–I thought about the petty things I can get my undies in a bunch over. I thought about the relationships in my life that are wounded. I’ve heard it said, and I’ve agreed–none of that matters! But now that truth had taken a deep dive to somewhere inside me that suddenly made it imperative. Really, all that matters is love. Is connection. We are connected whether we want to be or not because everything that exists is interconnected. Kinking the flow of love, tying knots in the cords that connect us heart to heart–why? Why do I judge? Why do I defend? Why do I need anyone to be other than they choose to be? Why can’t I be content with who I am in this moment of my life experience? Peace does not elude me–it is I who bar the door.

Tests were inconclusive since I no longer had any symptoms other than a headache. The ER doctor figured it was probably a Transient Ischemic Attack–a mini-stroke that’s not really a stroke. If I understand correctly it mimics a stroke but resolves quickly leaving no damage. They said that the CT scan showed an area in my brain’s right frontal lobe that was damaged–“missing” as the doctor put it–which my husband said might explain a few things–that indicated a minor stroke in my past that I have no memory of, probably because that part of my brain is missing. They let me go home because there seemed no reason to keep me. I had to promise that I’d reduce my stress and come back for more tests.

Once home, I found myself immersed in a rushing tide of love and concern and prayers from family, friends, and even strangers via the FB posting my daughter had done. I sat and cried from the humbling truth of how much I am loved by so many. It was a deeply personal realization of how much love and goodness and caring there is in the world–perfectly imperfect people caring about other imperfect people, stepping out to offer support and sending healing energy through their thoughts by just being willing to care about someone they may not even know.

My mother taught me that love is about showing up. When you love someone, you show up. Practicing love, means you show up. I suppose that means that to love even ourselves means showing up for ourselves. Certainly, a whole lot of people showed up for me in my tiny little crisis. At first I felt ashamed and embarrassed, as if I didn’t deserve it since really, I was okay and nothing terrible had happened. I had to let that go, and just allow myself to be filled up with gratitude–for my life, for my health, for my body that allows me to experience life in this world on this planet in this time…and for all those people, these many many people in my life who love me. I don’t think I realized even how many!

It rather undoes a person. It reduces you to your own “bottom line”… What is my life going to be about? What do I want my legacy to be when that day comes when my body decides it’s done and isn’t persuaded to continue? The ultimate result, or outcome of my life, what do I choose to make that to be?

A long time ago I decided that the specifics of the story of this planet and the Universe and who is the Creator of it all and how will it end and by what means, though interesting since there are nearly as many stories and myths and opinions with proof to back them as there are people, was far far less important than whether and how I lived in accordance with the essence of all those teachings and beliefs. Whether it is the admonition in sacred texts of numerous religions and spiritual practices to Love, or the call by those awakening to the Light to raise our vibrational frequency to Love so we can evolve, it is still about Love. Every belief system, at its core, is about love as far as I’ve been able to ascertain.

So what does it mean to love? To love your enemies as yourself? To love your neighbor as yourself? To love yourSelf? To love the Earth? To love the Creator?

To love even if you expect to be saved from a dying earth by the Rapture or E.T.s?

To be imperfect human beings, bombarded by so much…confused, wounded, stressed, afraid for our safety or that of others, grieved by the harm being done to the Earth and to people all around us…yet still, called to Love. What does that look like when someone tromples on my dignity? What does that mean at home in my kitchen? What does that feel like when I have to take in the news of great harm being done by powerful people?

For one day I felt that. The undeserved outpouring of love and grace and concern upon my small, imperfect Self.

I owe it to all those who poured their love on me to make good use of this life I was given. To exercise the discipline needed to create beauty and peace with sometimes just the power of my thoughts–directing them in a positive and loving way. And to utilize the gifts I have been given, honoring the sacred trust given to me to share. Shining my small light bravely into the world–not hiding it away in a closet, or under a blanket.

Love is my “bottom line”.

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SUNSET

SUNSET

June 11, 2015

I am sitting on my comfortable old porch, watching the sun set behind the bluffs. Water burbles as it falls into the little pond in my rock garden. Birds are having multitudinous dinner conversations. My thoughts wend their way to my dying father-in-law, sitting in his chair in a bright yellow room in a building 200 miles away.

What does it feel like, I wonder, to be removed from the familiar rooms and gardens of your home to spend the days that remain of your life in a single room in a building full of old and dying people? What must it feel like to live with the knowledge you will never return to your home–never sit in your old chair or wander through the cluttered rooms to sneak a slice of pie from the refrigerator?

….One day you drove to a routine doctor appointment, and just never came home again…

You wheel down the long hall to the patio entrance. You cannot even walk on your own now. The gardens here are lovely–meticulously cared for by some hired gardener. You miss the ramshackle mess of your yard with its overgrown tangle of shrubberies and perennials and weeds. Here there are no deer, no squirrels raiding the bird feeders. Here, everything is tidy. Everything is sanitary and sterile.

You live here now. You will die here. You’ve run out of somedays and tomorrows. The spool of your life thread has fed itself into the warp and woof of your story. You know that this path you’ve traveled so many years is coming to its last bend, its last mile before the unavoidable Door through which you know you must pass, leaving this old wreck of a body behind in the world to which it belongs, along with the ramshackle house and the tangled gardens and the stacks of books and the closets full of old junk you found intriguing those golden days when you hauled it home.

You wonder what lies beyond the Door? No matter…you’re going to find out whether you want to or not.

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Back in the ramshackle house with the tangled gardens she sits at her table in her little kitchen world, stubbornly clinging to what was–to the familiar–refusing to acknowledge how swiftly the days are rushing by as she is carried on the currents toward that same Door her husband fast approaches. There can be no retreat, no turning back, no camping on the banks of this swiftly moving river. But oh, how hard she tries to swim against this current, back upstream somewhere where life made sense and she was comfortable and unafraid.

We watch as little by little her life slips through her frail fingers–its brilliance fading fast. We would take her hand and comfort her; help her relax into the inevitable flow. But the fight still blazes in her eyes. She’ll have none of it.

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With one last brilliant flash, the sun sinks behind the bluffs, below the horizon. The birds have finished their dinner parties and are wheeling in the dusky sky, heading home. A dog trots by, absent a human companion. A mosquito is whining in my ear, looking for her own needed sustenance. The world is quieting.

My heart is full of love, and sadness; but as I watch the stars begin to wink into view, I wonder what incredible beauty, what wonders and joy wait beyond that Door to which we all must one day come. A passage to look forward to with excitement, rather than dread? An event to embrace, rather than resist? Perhaps on this side we see the setting of the sun, but on the other side is its rising.