NEXT002 How Death Opens Up The “Present”

Posted on : 07-04-2011 | By : Lynn | In : End of the Road

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Most of us have heard the reminder about “living in the now” and that the only thing we can really count on is the present moment.  Turns out, these words of wisdom as well as many similar quips are right on.  There is something about being in the presence of a loved one who is dying that really opens up the present of life for me.  Not to sound like “Harold or Maude”  but just to make note of how the shadowy side of life, which is death, certainly has its moments as well.

A very good friend of mine who I’ve known since I was in my early twenties entered hospice care yesterday.  Thank goodness for Hospice and the caregivers who give their time and love to those who have chosen to end their journey of life this way.  This friend of mine has seen me through thick and thin.  From being an absolutely crazy, out of control co-dependent through getting sober off of many things that I used to ingest to help me to get out of all the mounting moments of pain.  When I went to visit my friend this evening, I felt time moving like thick molasses.  She had asked me to grab a few things from her apartment to bring with me which included her nail polish remover. She has always had incredibly beautiful long nails.  I sat there for the first half hour taking the old nail polish off of her nails as we talked about the present, the past and the future.  Just like in meditation, somehow my usual fast moving thoughts had slowed down enough so that I could be fully in the present.  She cried, I cried. We laughed.  When I told her that during my meditation yesterday I just “knew” that she had made this decision, she asked me why I hadn’t told her that she was going down the shoots.  I said, “you are a wonderful, loving lady who is a dear, dear friend but you’re also hard headed as hell and so you had to get here on your own sweet time” and we both laughed and then cried.

She talked about this last year of battling her Lupus and Cancer and how it had felt like she was trying to put round pegs into square holes.  I told her she’d put up quite a good fight.  And reminded her about how many people she has touched and continues to touch.  In fact, a couple of weeks ago she had struck up a conversation with the guy who had delivered flowers to her hospital room and learned that he had her deceased husband’s same first and last name.  They bonded over books very quickly and two week’s later he had chocolate and a teddy bear delivered to her room at the rehab center.  I reminded her about how precious each of these living moments are that we are in now…that these count too, that little miracles continue to pop up all the time if we just notice them.  Like the baby green frog who I startled awake from his safe sleeping post on our coiled up hose the other day. He had been so asleep that I was able to pick him up and spontaneously kiss him on the head.  I put him in the fish pond on top of a lily pad. My friend loved that story. She agreed with me about the precious moments. Like when her major care giver doctor who had been seeing her through chemo had the tough conversation with her about the aggressive cancer, her weak physical condition and helped  her arrive at the decision to enter hospice care.  He hugged her and then cried as he was leaving her room.  She also said after a very tough day of people coming in and out of her room as she readied herself to being moved to hospice she looked up to see the entire Occupational Therapy department who had helped her over the months and years standing in her room to wish her good bye.

Death does suck, don’t get me wrong but I believe that when life gives you a whole cart of manure, there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere.  Love your life’s precious moments. Slow down and let it in.

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