Life is Precious
It's been a hard couple of days full of unexpected news, changed plans, disappointment, loss, and sorrow. My parent's were supposed to arrive yesterday for a visit and for Papa to attend the Veteran's Day ceremony with Liam. This was going to be a special occasion for Liam and Papa. Unfortunately, while my Dad was on the road headed to our house, he got a call from his sister letting him know his youngest brother, Troy, was dying. We knew he wasn't doing well and that his last round of Chemo was particularly hard on him, but everyone thought he had more time. In light of the bad news, my Dad had to make the hard decision to get the next available flight out to try to see his brother one more time.
My Mom and Dad jumped on a plane at midnight and flew all night in the hopes of making it in time to say goodbye to Troy. They arrived a couple hours after he passed. It was hard to tell them the news this morning. Since hearing the news of my Uncle's passing this morning, I have not been able to stop crying. I know part of my sadness is knowing how much he was suffering and knowing my Dad just missed seeing his brother alive one more time. I know I would be heartbroken in this situation myself. But my Dad is an eternal optimist and capable of finding peace in even the most difficult of circumstances. For this, I deeply admire him. I know my dad is sad he missed saying goodbye but know that he is at peace because he knows his brother is no longer suffering.
Even as I am aware of part of why I feel so deeply saddened by my Uncle's passing, I am surprised by how hard it has hit me. This loss feels closer somehow. I'm not quite sure why that is since I have not seen my Uncle Troy in person in 20 years. Sad, I know, but true. I think it's that realization that 20 years has passed since I was last back in Iowa to visit family there and that blows me away. How is it that 20 years has passed?! I know I can look back and tell you where I have been and that I went to college, got married, moved 4 or 5 times, and had two children, but I still cannot believe how fast that time has passed.
I think Uncle Troy's passing has made me remember how fleeting and precious life is. We've all heard this before. We know life is precious and yet, we forget what that really means. It's almost as if I understand how important and valuable the life we live is. Today I am reminded that wasting time is just not an option. We don't have a single minute of this precious life we share together to waste on petty shit or on things that really don't matter in the end. Today I am reminded to consider what it is that is important to me and what it is that I want to remember about my life, and what kind of legacy I want to leave behind.
And this is what I know right now, I know that I don't want my life to be about making living, I want it to be about love and the beauty that this life has to offer. I want it to be about my family, making sweet memories together and strengthening our bonds. I want it to be about drinking in the beauty of the sky, the trees, the ocean, the mighty wind, and the way of nature. I want it to be about giving my best and being of service in the world in whatever way I can find to make that happen. I want to know that I made a difference simply by helping and doing my best. And I want to remember that every moment I spend with the people I love is valuable. And when I forget, because I will, I hope that someone will kindly remind me that today, this moment, this life is precious.
Over the past couple of days I have been thinking a lot about this passage in the book "Siddhartha" where Siddhartha is lying nearly dead by the river when he closes his eyes and remembers a time from his childhood.
"It was the annual celebration of the spring plowing, and his nurses had left him resting under a rose apple tree at the edge of the fields. Sitting in the cool shade of the tree, the child watched the men at work , sweat pouring down their faces; he saw the oxen straining to pull the plow. In the cut grasses and the freshly turned soil, he could see insects dying, their eggs scattered. Sorrow arose in Siddhartha for the suffering that all living beings experience. In the tenderness of his compassion, Siddhartha felt deeply opened. Looking up he was struck by how brilliantly blue the sky was. Birds were dipping and soaring freely and gracefully. The air was thick with the sweet fragrance of apple blossoms. In the flow and sacred mystery of life, there was room for the immensity of joy and sorrow. He felt completely at peace."
This is the crazy thing about life, it's full of both immense joy and sorrow. We have to remember that we will always be presented with both. Life is not a clean, straight line, it is messy and, at moments, hard, beautiful and amazing in unexpected ways. All we can do is vow to be present for all of it, to embrace the fullness that our life has to offer us.
May Love and Light fill your days,