Some days the preciousness of life beams at you like beacon. At those time we walk so closely between the edges of life and death that what is important becomes clearer. And what is not becomes inconsequential. Emotions abound and our heart fly open.
Yesterday was one of those days. It begun at 6 AM with a text announcing the passing of a beautiful woman and friend. Her incredible, patient and loving daughters ministered and guided her gently through the end of a long and arduous illness. (She guided them, too)
“She just passed.”
“She is in heaven.”
They held her and held each other with open hearts and minds.
Life is Precious
While I exchanged supportive texts with a few other friends I read this article (Life After Loss), and then, unfortunately, checked the news. It is an intense time in this world to be sure. The gang rape in New Delhi caught my attention. And a tribute to the slain firemen* touched my heart.
*With the holidays full of love and family, and the young losses of such traumatic and senseless deaths in Newtown still unsettled in our minds, another horrific event hit us on Christmas Eve just a few miles from my home. Firefighters were called to a house and vehicle fire in Webster, NY, and then ruthlessly shot at. (Yes, with an assault riffle.) Two first responders were killed and three more injured.
People are not sure what to say. What to think. Some people wonder why and more have strong opinions as to why. I reflected on all of it as I readied for work. What is my role? I wondered. Am I doing all I can? The violence has to stop.
Then, while I kept in touch with my friends through texting, I began a long day with ten clients scheduled. Many more “life is precious” conversations ensued. Many more questions asked, some unanswerable. Relief, tears, loss, worry, and love expressed. I can’t tell you everything because of confidentiality, but here is an example * of what people are feeling their way through.
*I changed some identifying factors to protect their privacy.
A woman announced her pregnancy (after seven years of infertility and three miscarriages) but she was spotting blood, so was painfully afraid to be excited in case. (I cried because I wanted to be excited, too.)
A Christmas Eve fight with a alcoholic father.
A call from a mom saying her (teenage) son-my client-was in the hospital after a suicide attempt that morning. This broke my heart. The doctor at the hospital told me that he was disappointed to be alive. “That’s not good,” the doctor added. I prayed.
Another 16 year old who’s broken hearted after her first love broke up with her, showed me the cuts she made on her upper arm, because she “doesn’t like herself.”
A 13 year old thinks she is ugly, and “not good enough” because of what some bullies told her 4 years ago. She is so not ugly.
Someone committed to accepting himself fully, unconditionally.
Someone let go of guilt. A guilt so intense it immobilized her.
A man asked, Why me? Why did I deserve to be so unloved? (I reminded him he was loved.)
A teacher frustrated with such intense performance regulations in NY state that she has no time for social management in the classroom. No time to teach the kids how to love themselves, treat each other well. Or prevent violence. (There is one counselor for 500 kids). Made me think of where this pressure to “be good enough” comes from.
I had a new client scheduled last in the day. Aside from a name, I usually know nothing about who it is I am about to meet. I was tired from the intensity of the day. (I was tired when I read the news in the morning and this is nine hours later!)
However, embolded by the love I have for the people I spoke with that day, I was energetic and eager to meet someone new and hear his or her story. A nice looking man came in and introduced himself as a volunteer fire fighter. My heart sank. I got a first hand account of the men who fell on Christmas Eve in the line of duty. It was a beautiful account of some amazingly dedicated men. And I was reminded once again that life is precious. But also in a way death is precious.
We keep on keeping on. Letting those life’s lived change us for the better, remind us how to be good people, how make changes before it is too late. (It is never too late–even after death relationships can change. Read I Miss You Means I Love You)
It has been weeks of intensity when people have questioned our purpose in big and small ways. Some of us have said goodbye to old ways. Some of us have said goodbye to loved ones. But with every ending there is a beginning. An opportunity awaits us and it is our job to answer it. I see people taking this opportunity everyday. Turning to love to guide them out of the darkness. I want to be among them, to make a difference. I have to remember that it doesn’t take much. Small difference and big difference are all the same.
Over to you. Do you agree that life is precious?
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver