Death

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Death. It’s everywhere I look this week. I just flew home on a plane from my father in laws memorial service. In the blink of an eye, a life is over. As I was exiting the plane I overheard a conversation between two men in the seat next to me. “Yeah, I just flew home three weeks ago to bury my dad and today I am back to say goodbye to my mom”. 

Death evens the score. It reminds us that the ending is the same regardless of how life begins or how we roll through the middle. Doesn’t matter if we are rich or poor, happy or sad. Time eventually runs out and all we can do is sit and wait.

My cat is dying. She is wasting away before my eyes. An animal who was once so fearful of leaving the house just wants to sit outside. I am out here with her fighting back tears that are too strong to contain.  I let them dampen my face. It’s been a humbling week. One that will stay with me for quite a while. It’s a peaceful night. Except for the sound of a bird chirping, all I can hear is the gentle flow of the wind. Let it blow through I remind myself. The pain, the regrets, the fear…so many questions. What have I done with the time I’ve been given? Have I loved enough? The cat sits at my feet and the unspoken words between us are too painful to explain. I know and she knows and we just sit here quietly side by side. Have I lived my own life like this silly cat? Have I too stared out the window too afraid to walk outside? I wonder if it’s a message, a lesson that she leaves for me so that maybe one day I can feel the same freedom she feels here tonight. I’ve had this cat for as long as I can remember. I’ve had her longer than my 15 year old son. She started out in Texas and made the move to Indiana and Oklahoma. She was my constant companion through every move. She was a quiet presence of strength and love.

Death is a creeper. I feel it in the shadows as I struggle to make peace with it. It’s been a long couple of days and I am feeling really tired. Maybe tonight I will get some sleep. For now, I will sit with sweet Jimgles a little bit longer. I want this moment to linger. Maybe, just for now, time will stand still and let me enjoy her a few minutes longer. Maybe this last night is all we have. There’s no way to ever know.

Amazing Strength

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The way I see it, there are two major differences when it comes to people. The truth is. each and everyone of us has a backpack of problems. Some of us carry that backpack quietly on our own back and the rest of us expect someone else to carry the load. Some dump it out all at once and others disperse it among everyone around.

I have been following a story on Facebook for quite some time now. It is about the life, the tremendous amount of strength of a special person who is fighting a battle against pancreatic cancer. She is the sister of someone I went to school with many years ago. This girl was born with boxing gloves. She has setback after setback and still she fights. When doctors encourage her to give up the battle, she says no way. It doesn’t matter if she loses her hair, her physical strength, the hope from others, this girl gives it all she’s got. She wants to live for herself, her husband, her children and the thousands of people praying for her every day. She doesn’t talk about the pain. She brushes it off. She doesn’t complain that the number of days in a hospital, far outweigh the ones she spends at home. She talks of the things she is grateful for. She doesn’t focus on the parts of her body that are slowly shutting down, she talks about how grateful she is for the things that are coming together. Her friends and total strangers are contributing to a fund to help them pay the bills. People are coming from all over to support their family because they are so drawn to her optimism, fight and courage. She worries that the people worried about her, worry too much. I know how awful she must feel every single day. Not one day arrives that she wakes up and feels good. Not one, ever. She is and should be an example to all of us. Almost everyday, every week something else goes wrong. Many of us would be so discouraged, so defeated, but this girl straps on her backpack and she carries it forward one step at a time by herself with the support of others cheering her on. And so she finds the strength to keep on going and going when most of us would make the decision to quit.

I think about her everyday I start the process of complaining. This hurts, that hurts, I have a headache. I have shin splints. Oh well. Life could be worse. Will I talk about that with everyone I encounter in a day or will I talk about my blessings and how lucky I am that I am here to talk at all today? What will YOU talk about? It matters. Every word, every ounce of energy you send off affects how someone else you encounter will feel. Remember that. It is so important.

Some people carry a snack size bag of crap. Other people carry a whole garbage bag full. The garbage bag people act like they have a tiny bag and the snack size ones talk themselves and others into thinking they have the garbage bag. That is the difference. Which kind of person are you? Put it in your backpack and keep moving. Be grateful for the good days and stop giving so much energy and thought to the stuff that is not good. Thoughts become things. What things will your thoughts bring?

Muddling Through

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As I stumble into day 7 of my son running a fever and being too sick to even sit up for an extended period of time, I can’t help but wonder how parents get through the experience of having terminally ill children. Sure, on the outside they are smiling and cherishing every second with their child but on the inside? I’m not at all comparing my situation but as a mom, I know the heartbreak that I feel when my son first opens his eyes and I ask that question. How are you feeling today? He just shakes his head no and my hopes are shattered. It’s hard to watch someone you love suffer. All you want to do is make them feel better and that is the one thing you will never be able to do.

I think we take health for granted. We walk around as a society putting complete garbage in our mouths, not exercising and not generally caring for ourselves. We have this silly notion that nothing will ever happen and we are above becoming ill. The truth though is very different from what we trick ourselves to believe.

We are faced with challenges throughout our lifetime. Some we cannot run away from. We just have to hop on that fateful horse, take a hold of the reigns and ride the ride. Sometimes the journey leads us to a wonderful place and other times not, but we just have to get up and keep muddling through. Chin up, sit up straight and keep on going.

The fact is our health is constantly changing. We must remember that and care for our bodies and our emotional state to give ourselves the best odds of living a healthy life. When you need to rest, rest. When you are overweight, change what you are putting into your body. De stress and exercise, even if it’s a short walk around the block. Listen to the little signs and adjust as necessary. Our bodies are amazing. What they do quietly behind the scenes is truly remarkable. You only have one so take care of it.