Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Living and Dying

I mentioned last week that my friend's brother-in-law was killed in a car accident. It was very tragic and totally avoidable. He is gone, and the 20 year old who was driving 100 mph came through with a broken foot.

I had the opportunity to help her out by watching her kids and then driving them (and mine) to the calling hours, and to speak with her throughout the week. She is one of five sisters, and it was wonderful to see them support each other, love each other and be together. No doubt they irritate each other quite a bit at times, but the love was evident, and the support practical and palpable.

My daughter's teacher, Anne, is on the last few days/weeks of her journey with spinal cancer. The program that she taught at has been organizing parents to go and sit with her for two 2-hour shifts each day to just sit, to help with light housework, or to give her husband some time to himself. I was able to clear Saturday evening to go and do just that, and it was such an incredible gift to me. Her family and friends were in and out, it was busy and cheerful and loving, and she has been able to stay at home.

When I told Anne that my daughter sent her love, her eyes opened wide, and she gave me a huge smile. She was too weak to even speak above a whisper, but gave me that same joyous smile when I showed her the garden flowers that someone had brought, when I asked her if I should open the front door wide to let the afternoon sun pour in to the room, and when I rubbed her feet and covered them to warm them up.

These two experiences are a wonderful gift to me, because before I went to Anne's, I spoke to my mother, who is on oral chemotherapy as of two weeks ago, and who is definitely in decline, though not in immediate danger unless her diabetes can't be kept under control. She was annoying, unreasonable, and focused on anything but spending what time is left to her in loving, joyful ways that make the best of what's left. I feel such grief for her, and for my sister and I, that this will not be a journey that is full of gratitude and joy for her. The contrast between her and Anne is stark.

We have been exploring joy for Wellspring the last two weeks and it was good to see that it has become more natural for me. I carry a lot of intense energy, but when I went to Anne's one of the women called me after she left and commented that I brought such an aura of joy with me into the house. Not something I've ever been accused of before, but a wonderful new thing to try to carry with me.

Joy. The sun pouring in the window. A foot rub. Fresh flowers. Love.


David G. Markham said...

Hi Kelly KH

Beautiful post.

I am glad you are able to experience yourself in loving ways with Ann and her family with others who appreciate what you have to share.

As for your mother, it sounds like you have learned not to expect much and to protect yourself from the negative energy.

Dying as a lot to teach us if we care to learn from the experience. One of the things we can learn from dying is to come to understand what matters. That is true wisdom.

All the best,

David Markham

Kelly KH said...

Thanks David. I have been very interested in birth for many years, and now, in the sandwich generation, am learning about the other end of life in loving community.

I want to end my life like Anne - surrounded by friends and family and love, with lots of joy and gratitude.

Sue Delaware said...

I agree--beautiful. Thanks for sharing!