On Dying


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I was in the presence today of a dying person. No, not like you and me–I mean actively dying. We are all dying of course, but this is part of my hospice volunteering, my first day meeting with my new patient.

It’s not at all like being a paramedic because we aren’t given much: only a name. No diagnosis, no real history, no nothing. Of course, I’m not your average volunteer, so I can deduce some things. But, I’m not there to fix really. Only to sit. And maybe to provide some small comfort, maybe some smiles and to help a caregiver get some respite.

In this case I am reminded how much we can tell by someone’s eyes. They may not be able to speak much anymore, but their eyes speak volumes. And maybe they aren’t able-bodied any longer, but it is easy to remember that this same person was someone else, someone before they were dying.

They were like you and me: laughing loudly, arguing, dancing, quilting, walking around, loving, working and most of all–living.

It makes me wonder why people spend time while they are alive wasting it on unhappy things. On things that upset them. On things that they can never reclaim. On people who will never care enough. Why I did.

I need to spend more time living while I’m dying. Because we never know when it will be our turn that the dying will become active. Or maybe the living will simply stop.

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Giants


Giants in my life. And only some of the few who share my private space, seem to get my moods and don’t weigh me down with unnecessary baggage of their own.

They have been my compadres for longer than many I’ve known. They are getting older, but have always seemed wiser than most I meet– at least when it comes to napping.

In retrospect, hiding under the bed when most people were around was probably what I should have done also; they know the ones that are safe. And the truth is, they get a bad rap about being stuck up or snobby. A person can hardly sit down without one demanding affection.

No, it’s love, not just the catnip or canned food. Because why are they throwing themselves under hands or rubbing against parts of the body, especially when I’m trying to do something important. Love. It’s definitely love.

And with the endless purr, a thank you for the partnership. It’s not always easy with the clawed couches and smelly litter, but, in the end there is love back.

Not only that, but also napping buddies.

Little Thoughts


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When thoughts start to clutter my mind now, especially ones that take me away from the present, this is my new mantra:

I am here now; I am alive; I am healthy; I am grateful.

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“Extended bliss is boredom of the existential kind.” from the book NutShell  By Ian McEwan.

Just Right


“In the right place, under the right conditions, you can finally stretch out into what you are supposed to be. ” — Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

 

How long do we wait for the right place and the right conditions? It may seem to some of us that we take a long time to stretch out; that we spend much of our lives contorted and bursting apart just to come together again. I have.

The right conditions seem to involve some sort of special magic; a particular brew that mixes together to concoct the spell where the microcosm in which we move feels easy and the skin that we wear no longer needs tailoring.

Some folks that we meet seem to have been born with this magic as they whirl around with the twinkling Universe hovering nearby. But most of us aren’t so lucky. Some of us seek it, but I see now this maybe isn’t how it works. It may be more like how a seed turns into a tree. It’s just dumb luck. It just waits encased in its shell until all the conditions are perfect and then bursts forth into the world.

But most don’t get this far.

Maybe I’ve just tried too hard to make everything happen. Can I be more like that seed? Just quietly sitting on the forest floor gathering the magic conditions to crack me open. Will I be one of the lucky ones?

And once I am that wonderful entity, crawling with life and fluttering with each breath of wind, my roots firmly reaching in all directions: then I will know I am who I am supposed to be.