I Looked Into the Eyes of a Dying Woman

cancer-sucks-pictures

The other day, I traveled across a state to say good-bye to a friend. I did it because I wanted her to realize just how worth it she is. I did it for the love I have for her and her children. I did it because I cared. But the trip wasn’t meant to be about me, it was a gesture of kindness for a person who now is faced with readying herself for the next chapter in her life – that out of body journey that we are left curious about yet, hold onto a faith of purpose in the next life.

Whenever I lose someone I am close to it gives me pause, as it naturally should. I am the guy that constantly walks around complaining about a life without everything I want, an unhappiness sometimes that if I am not careful can be revealed to those I am close to in life. To sit and witness a person who is losing their struggle in life and still smile and offer happiness to those loved ones around her is certainly a humbling experience.

I’m glad I made the drive. The day was beautiful, the moment saying good-bye was special. Seeing the love in the room was quite exceptional, a lot of tears, moments of reservation turned to immediate release, and then two children doting on their dying mother with every resource their body and mind would allow. I said to them at one point, you are both such gracious people filled with love and humility. I said, you had a great mentor and they both glanced at mom and weeped for a second. Smiles and hugs around realizing the day was nearer than anyone would like it to be.

I said my good-bye and hit the road for the drive back, the whole time processing what I had just done and why. I had no ulterior motive to see a young woman die before her time. I wanted to say good-bye and see the peace in her eyes. I wanted to know that death is a planned event no matter the impulsivity. We will all wonder why she had to be taken so soon, while others struggle on for years, or overcome the disease that threatens a life.

On the drive back, I cried, I cried hard. It felt refreshing, cleansing I suppose. It felt like I was allowing my feelings to come to the surface rather than suppressing them. I believe in that moment of weeping, I understood love in all of its abundance.

But the story doesn’t end there. Halfway into the drive I heard about the death of Senator John McCain. I certainly did not know him personally, did not ever meet him, but like everyone else, or the majority in our country, I do recognize him as a national hero. I witness the strength of character in his work ethic right up to the day of his departure. I read about his victories, sufferings and accomplishments, and suddenly I am aware of how his life was sacrificed for the better good. Much like my friend, in the end, his entire focus was helping people find their own peace with that goal in mind.

So that night, a Saturday night, I went through a lot of soul-searching. I recognized my own purpose and how these were moments of clarity that give me the strength to go on. Remember we always think about the resilience to go on when we lose someone we care or have compassion for. Much like John McCain, and my friend, life is precious, and we realize it in the worst of times.

And then it happened. The next day, we lost another kind soul. The superintendent of our school district died the day before we walked into our classrooms. Across the district there was  a numbness felt for a man that brought positivity in a time when that was the only way to heal many painful aspects of our district’s history. His tenure with us was brief, but in that time he brought real and genuine happiness into the lives of the people he touched. And his spirit did and will continue to touch many.

So, this weekend I was surrounded by cancer. I suppose it was a necessary passage of showing all of us that our lives are worth every  minute we have and to never take our time for granted. I look around the room and realize there are people that do not have the capacity to recognize the connection between life and death. For me, on this rather remarkable weekend of finding peace in the curiosity of the human condition, I am hoping I will find an eventual peace. I go forward hoping to resonate with the legacy of people brought down before their time, yet people that instilled love and purpose into my own life and the lives of all of those around us.

Godspeed our fragile humanity.

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Numbing My Reality

Seeing hope in the eyes of death

Knowing love is an energy blessed

Walked into a room

Where he stood strong

Where she would laugh

Why tomorrow we will all cry

Is a measure

Conducive to living life

Accepting mortality

Turning anger to hope

For with every life

A new dawn prepares sunset

Our confusion

Begins evolution of time

The resurrection of hope

Suggests love.

Are You Ok?

How do you ask

Why do you ask

Well, I’m alright

yeah, I am.

 

We cannot predict this stuff

nod your head

show affirmation

let the tears come

think about …

children nearby …

grown adults

they’re watching you,

loving you,

thanking you.

 

Everyone in the room is

grateful

within the tears,

they are laughing together

celebrating  the beauty of you,

you, today, embody love.

 

Today you shine

as much as any other day,

yet,

everyone with shielded eyes

is taking their moment

acknowledging your time

realizing how precious

life is today

while we bid adieu

some way away

we would ask, wish,

know.

First Glance

Eyes open

still in mourning

a soft reminder

precious

in the quiet of a breeze

rustling leaves

the next stage

a would be journey lay ahead.

What follows

will be stark extreme

immediate loss

in sensory perception

for some a routine

cycle of life

while others we know

traverse a newer universe

one shares in

solemn

Mortality

When A Friend’s Pain Defines Personal Purpose

I have a fairly good life. I am gainfully employed, live in a seemingly free country, with all the benefits of free speech and liberty. I have a family, we are all healthy. Our lives are determined by our actions. Given all of that reward I sometimes question my purpose, and I begin to doubt my ability, and I frame a rather skeptical outlook on my future. I’ll then beat myself up and struggle with the reality of my fortune. However, it is when I hear of the pain of someone in my life, close or connected that I really begin to recognize the gifts I have received. It is then I feel guilty for not appreciating what I have to live for.

That self-serving attitude causes a depression that can more often than not, be debilitating. I used to believe my depression was situational – created by short term events. I have now as I finish the 5th decade of my life realized my depression is clinical. I add fuel to it by recognizing an addictive personality – so many factors of my life have been defined by addiction. I feel fortunate to have responded to recovery in the manner I have. As a friend often says, life is good.

All that said, I believe life doesn’t really happen until you experience someone else’s pain. How many funerals have we walked away from where a person took their own life, and everyone is left with questions. It happens frequently and we are always sad, and for the moment, we do catalogue our own possibilities, and we do recognize how lucky our lives can be. But then reality sets in and life becomes again burdensome, and for me specifically I begin to question purpose.

Recently I was told of a friend’s battle with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. This friend is someone I knew in a previous time, and our lives have gone many directions in the last ten years. However, the impact of this news has literally shut me down and made me reflect again on what is my purpose. She is a beautiful person with beautiful children, and I can guarantee she did not choose this path in her final days. She’s younger than me, and today I am faced with the reality of finding perspective.

I spent this last weekend in my hometown, and I watched a music festival that was a lot of fun. My wife and I enjoyed the blues, and I spent rare time with my extended family. Whenever I return to my hometown, I am flooded with childhood memories, couple that with time with my family and it can be precarious. We came home refreshed and in good spirits and the foreboding feeling I receive when returning to my world seemed to creep up slowly. I again began to experience my depression, and the choices I make in my life become centered, and I began to wonder about purpose.

It was then I received an email about my friend. She was diagnosed recently and her condition is untreatable. Here is the quandary. Where I spend the night questioning my purpose and allowing my depression to win, suddenly I hear of this person who has everything in the world to live for and she knows it will be taken away. She doesn’t want that, not now, not in the prime of her life. I thought about her pain all night, and I realized that any time I feel sorry for myself I need to think of my friend and recognize I have chances that other people do not.

People are given windows into the lives of others for a reason. In this case, my friend’s pain is unfortunately my saving grace. I am not debilitated, I am not suffering a terminal illness, I am not losing my mind. God help me that those factors always evade me. Instead I will take her challenge as an inspiration that in her toughness might I show some strength in recognizing I do have a purpose in this life. I do need to move forward if not just for her, for my own well being.

Let’s pray we all might continue to find our purpose and strength to exemplify the life our friends and family might not have the luxury to fully experience.

We All Know People

cancer

We walk and talk and laugh and cry

we very seldom wonder why.

The world is a constant challenge

to know what latest foil we avenge.

She is a woman of substance, a smile

so indicative of freedom in erstwhile

company that does suggest harmony

meant to soften the grit of calamity.

 

She does laugh and parade a humor

contagious to the souls in her armor.

While the world continues mechanic

hers is a pause to manage this panic.

She that brings life to an aspect of love

is far and away too soon to travel above.

We are compelled by passionate drive

to seek solace inside the love we strive.

 

Hers is a sudden discovery of mortality

yet always will she battle senseless reality.

The oddity of this cancerous phenomena

strikes at the heart of those we love in a

ruthless manner with little decisive manner.

Loved ones struck down or asked to gather

strength inside the quandary of humanity …

we do find ourselves now begging sanity

 

For it is a battle silent, in the shadow’s release

Oh to know salvation brings wonder in peace.

When the World Stops and Everyone Continues to Walk

We have these,

call them,

whatever you might preference at the moment.

An epiphany, a catharsis,

a smack in the face in expression,

the reality of our lives.

 

Just when the seasons began to express

their natural beauty,

the leaves that decay to a certain brilliance,

representing death and love

all the same,

Crisp autumn breeze.

 

Walk outside on familiar soil,

feel the fragrance of winter’s

slow methodical drift in heavy horizon.

We know the air is changing,

Sense a sort of reminder,

What it is we desire we internalize.

 

The other morning, while sunlight spoke

aloud the wonder of Nature,

he too would smile and laugh and then

cry,

for life begins a journey, meant to keep stride,

whether ready to climb aboard –

 

offer a choice, it is not always the case.

 

We decide, who decides, when did everyone

choose sides,

and were we even a consideration,

beyond the normalcy of our lives.

Did anyone even think to imagine,

inspiration is destiny within a moral compass.

 

So what if you don’t know your legacy,

instead rest upon a certain faith,

the sort that maintains a beautiful smile,

an energy,

we all thrive upon when entering the room.

For it is true you can save the world.

 

Because it is a sojourn we all must respect,

and the climate around us all,

needs the accentuate ritual of love,

Because without that handshake,

a quick smile, a silly joke,

we are all still floating an aimless travel.

 

It’s a short trip this trek toward mortality,

Be thankful you give us smile.

While we wait,

In earnest,

we seek a natural horizon,

Gives credence to the strength of His beauty.