When I was a teen, I can remember the embarrassment of thinking that I could die (do I dare write the words?!?!) while I had my period. To quote the young and texting crowd of today. I thought "OMG!!" ... I could think of absolutely nothing more mortifying!! My thoughts at that particular stage of my life were no deeper than the physical body that I would leave behind.
While that thought never strayed all that far from my mind as I grew into adulthood, there was one other thought that took hold and never let go. For years and years, I was consumed with the thought that I must live long enough to see my children to adulthood. This line of thinking was eventually replaced with the mantra - "The only reason that I would want to know that I was going to die, was if I had dependent children. Barring that? Surprise me!"
I have lived a life of 'keeping my affairs in order' ... I remember moving to Our New City and finding myself writing letters to those that mattered to me and putting on paper, that which I thought was important to say. A few of those letters would seep out of my fingertips and then suddenly I would become obsessed with the idea that 'what if' I was being driven to write these things because I was going to die soon?? So I would feverishly complete writing to everyone that mattered. Then I would sit back and relax and know that if the unforeseen was to happen, I had said what I wanted to say.
This stage also encompassed the obsession with housecleaning. 'If I was going to die' ... I didn't want people to think that I was a slob. I was very concerned about what physical evidence I would leave behind and I kept my house with that in mind. That was a crazy obsession. It wasted a lot of good energy ... because obviously, I lived.
This fervent fear eventually died down and I have come to a point where I simply try to keep up on a day to day basis.
If someone says or does something that touches me ... I acknowledge it. If I am overwhelmed with words ... I spill them. I don't walk around telling everyone that I love them ... but I live life in a way that my actions (hopefully) portray my feelings. It has become a habit.
I took care of my will and had conversations that mattered about that subject. Doing something productive with my fears was a wise move. It puts some of the worries to rest and laid them out in a legal fashion so that 'those that are left behind' aren't left wondering what to do.
But most importantly, I simply make every attempt to live a life of gratitude and appreciating life's small gifts on a day-to-day basis. I surround myself in friendship, family and an oasis of 'that which lifts me up'. I try to keep up and put a voice to all that matters to me on a regular basis.
I don't keep score in this thing called life. I toss out the best of me that I have to give. I will call someone and leave a message, send an email or card or token gift and simply forget that I have done so. Then I will be pleasantly surprised when someone calls me back. It delights and surprises me every time that it happens.
I have simply come to terms with 'living my best life' (as Oprah would put it), on a daily basis. If life tapped me on the shoulder at any point in time and said, "Sorry, but your time is up ...", I'd like to think that I had done my best with what I was given and be at peace with that thought.
Why am I writing all of this this morning? A good friend who has been struggling with health issues and various diagnoses this past long while urged me to come over as soon as my work day ended yesterday. She told me that she had just found out that her condition is terminal.
I was numb with the news.
This morning, I woke up with one word on my mind. "Why?" ... Each and every diagnosis that she received she was told the same thing. "We never catch this disease at this stage." It filled me with hope each and every time she added this phrase to her growing list of what her body was fighting. She is a feisty and stubborn soul. I honestly had no doubt that she was going to give this disease a run for its money. But it is winning. Why? ...
Life has a way of slowing unveiling its answers. I will be whatever my friend needs me to be as these months unfold. I simply hope she finds the peace and strength that she needs to fight this fight as long as her body is willing ...
"The nicest and the sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple pleasure, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string."
~ Lucy Maud Montgomery