I love you was the last thing she would ever say to me. As I looked into her beautiful eyes, my heart knew this would be the last time, this was really goodbye.
I had no idea when I decided to volunteer for Hospice how attached I could become to another human being in such a short time. I was telling my dad how deeply affected I was by the recent death of a patient I had grown to love. His response took me by surprise. “It’s not good to get attached.” I knew he was wrong. I had come to understand that being completely open to embracing someone with my whole heart was one of the most beautiful gifts I would ever know. Tonight I am in pain. As the rain falls against my window, my tears fall onto my pillow. I am comforted by the fact that my sweet little lady finally got her wish to go back home. I will miss her sweet face and the warmth of her hand and I am a better person because our lives touched, if only for a moment. Timing is everything and I believe everyone we meet serves a purpose. Our short time will leave a mark on my heart. I hope she knew just how special she was to me.
There is one thing this time of year that always makes me extremely happy. I know it sounds silly but really it’s true. Cleaning My Windows! They say in yoga you need to clear space in your mind and body to make room for something new. I believe clean windows have that same effect. It is a reminder that all the crud and dirt builds up on our windows the way bad thoughts and toxins build up in our minds and bodies. It is necessary to take time to notice and scrub it all clean. Make room for something better, find some new focus and make a clean start. Besides, clean windows make for a much better view.
A girl I went to school with lost her battle to cancer today. One thing I know for sure is you can learn so much about living from someone who knows she’s dying. There is no time for the nonsense. No time to stress over a kid getting a bad grade. No time to stress over an argument, your favorite sports team losing a game. It is so insignificant, all of it. The things we get ourselves crazy over seem so unimportant on a day like this. So how can we do it? How can we remember that everyday is a gift and tomorrow is never promised? The truth is we are all dying. Every day we do live is also one less we have left to live. Find a way to live like today is your last day. We don’t have time to sweat the small stuff. It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. How will you choose to live today? What changes do you need to make?
My daughter came to me a week ago and asked if she gave me money, could I order her notebooks online with my credit card. Every day since she has tracked her package and finally yesterday it came. I was sitting at the kitchen table when she walked into the room holding the package, smiling ear to ear. I vaguely remember her saying, “I love these notebooks, which one should I use first?” I think I responded by saying, “It’s your choice, just pick one”. It dawned on me today that I didn’t even take the time to look at them. I was so wrapped up in what I was doing that I didn’t take a moment to share her excitement. Tonight when she gets home, I will ask her to show them to me. My job is not to rule the world. The most important thing I can ever do is to make the people who I love feel valued and important. It is not how much money that defines you. It is not how many college degrees that hang on a wall. It is simply how well you treat others and how you make them feel that matters. We have got to find a way to give more time and attention to the people and things that do matter rather than the things that never will.
What makes you feel good? Sometimes I hit a lull in my own life but one thing is certain, lifting someone else up always lifts myself up too. I have learned that being kind to others and helping people in ways they cannot help themselves is a one way ticket to a happy place. Our time and how we choose to use it is such a gift and when we take someone’s hands, look them in the eye and silently say, I dedicate my time to you, that gift is a vibration that is sent from one person to another. It is a wave that keeps on going blessing everyone in its path. Not having a great day today? Do something nice and unexpected for someone and watch it change.
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. For those of you who have loyally followed my school saga, today really takes the cake. I volunteered to be a test monitor today. Of all the classrooms I could have been assigned to, as luck of the Irish would have it, I was assigned to the science room. Remember how many times I have mentioned Chase’s struggles in science are due to 2 very specific factors? The first is, the teachers will not allow us to have access to notes, even though it’s an accommodation in his 504. The other reason is the fact that they do not have a textbook that he can reference. Many meetings ago the assistant principal told me he would try and find Chase an old textbook so he would have something to study and reference. Needless to say though, there was never any follow through. After 3 hours of boredom I started to look around the classroom. To my absolute surprise, I spotted 34 8th grade science textbooks sitting on a shelf. I picked one up and started reading the chapter with the information he is learning now. The information was very easy to follow and written in a way he could easily understand. Someone please explain to me why this book has never been offered to him. It just doesn’t make sense.
The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.
It all seems a little backwards to me. Our priorities, the way we are forced to live our lives. I was remembering a time not so long ago when I was sitting in the middle of a square in the heart of Rome. I was tantalized by the music and the way the streets were transformed into romantic tables filled with candlelight and the aroma of tomato sauce and fresh pasta. The people were gathered there in the middle of it all sipping wine while sitting back on the marble steps engaging in conversation.
I compare that to my own busy life. When I drive down the street, neighbors are too busy staring into their phones to wave. Family dinners are replaced by 10 quick minutes of shoving food in your face and then rushing to get to the next thing. Home is filled with homework, studying, bills and emails that didn’t get finished during the day. We are racing to get that next grade, the next promotion, the next anxiety attack. We are stressed and exhausted, quite a contrast from my memory of that square. Perhaps the American Dream is actually a nightmare and it’s time to find a way to get back to the living part and remembering what’s really important.
I have a tiny patio out back surrounded by rose bushes and white lights draped overhead. Once in a while, I play that music from the square and my family sits out back as we enjoy bread and pasta and my husband and I sip some red wine. We end our evening with conversation and gelato and for a second I am back there in that square and my heart and my stomach are completely full.
I always say, it’s the little things that make you feel big but today it was one little thing that made me feel small. I’ve mentioned before that I volunteer at Hospice once a week. I started my day off pretty stressed today but eventually I got things under control. It’s amazing sometimes how we allow our minds to blow the simplest things out of proportion. The opposite is also true. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are for the smallest blessings that go unnoticed. Today that reality reached out and slapped me square in the face.
When I walked into the room today, my lady was slumped over in her wheelchair. Her neck was all out of sorts and she was leaning to the right. Her recent history of strokes had robbed her of her ability to take care of herself. She was no longer able to sit up straight. She could not use the left side of her body and had to rely on everyone for anything she may need or want. She asked me for a drink three times while I was there. I couldn’t help but wonder how long she sat there parched and thirsty. I sat down beside her chair and she wouldn’t let go of my hand. She told me about a lake she used to spend time at and begged me to take her there. Her begging and pleading was enough to break my heart.
It was in that moment that I promised myself I would be more aware of the simple things I take for granted. As I write these words, I am grateful I can hold my phone and use my fingers. I am grateful that I can sit up straight in this chair and that I am more than capable to get my own drink. Time has a way of putting everything into perspective and boy was today that day.
Count your blessings. Be grateful for all you have and help someone less fortunate than yourself. Remember that your life can entirely change in a single moment so in this moment close your eyes and give thanks.
I woke up the usual way dreading Monday. I thought to myself, what is it about this time of week that gives me such anxiety? The answer was pretty clear. I spend my entire day living in the future. Instead of taking each moment at a time, my thoughts jump ahead to the things I need to do that week that are piling up and spilling over my plate.
So today, I remind myself, work on one thing at a time. Put your thought and effort into that one and only thing until it’s time to cross it off the list. You could never drag a pile of coal around, of course it would weigh you down. Remember to tackle it one shovel load at a time and it will eventually get done. One thought, one task, one minute, one day at a time is the only way.