What makes us whole?

I have pondered this question in the past but have always come up with something simplistic. Something that is frankly pedestrian and easy. Let me start from the beginning of my thought process.

Many people share the similar experience of either caring for someone who is quickly approaching the end of their time here or have witnessed it. While I am not short changing the witnessing experience, the caring garners the bulk of my attention these days. Many people describe it as a brutal and exhausting experience. Even people who are “right with God” or are “very well adjusted” can be dismantled by this experience. So, this left me wondering….why?

I (like the majority of the population) spend my days occupied with stuff. Don’t get me wrong, we have honest and true obligations that must be met in order to eat, live, etc…but it seems that the remaining hours are spent in willful distraction. Television, internet, social media, celebrity worship, fame seeking, sex, money, and the wanting to be special are the lion’s share of our waking lives. I am no exception so this isn’t about judgment, just mere observation.

Besides breathing, death is the most assured and natural part of life. So why the big shake up to watch someone slowly make the transition, what’s the root of the problem here? I can’t speak for everyone but for me it seems to be this… OH, one more thing first. For those of you who don’t know me well I am somewhat of a Liberal Christian, so my belief system (like yours) is always at the center of my observations and with that being said, here is my take.

I think when we are in these pure moments of caring for someone who is passing; we are so close to the creator. Just as God lends us to this world, we are meant to eventually leave and to be so close to somebody making that journey to whatever is next is a glimpse into the other side, if you will. We slow down and get in touch with what really matters; life, death, and the creator of all things. To be in the presence of death is as awe inspiring as witnessing a birth because it is a way to see a miracle of the process of life and watch the work of a higher being. For those who don’t pray or believe that God hears their prayers, this is also a way to seemingly be in the very presence of the life force or cycle.

Now what makes it so difficult is that as we care for someone, we also have to exist in the world and try to go on with our lives the best that we can. THIS is where I feel the conflict arises. We are, by design, amazing creations. Just the idea of the fever managing infection, eyes, the way the heart works, etc…Throw in a soul and conscious to complete one heck of a package! WOW! We are made of the elements that we can tangibly see and ones that we can’t. Our very design is a freaking miracle and once we can get in touch with that, once we honor that acknowledgement with a birth or a death, we get how beautiful and valuable we are. However, the world says that we have no value innately and we must earn it through works, beauty, money, fame, etc… THIS is the rub; it’s the very moment where our intrinsic soul and the world violently collide with one another creating this explosion within us that translates into anger, pain, confusion and sorrow.

I don’t want to dismiss the obvious things. For instance that caring for a loved one is HARD work along with carrying on with your life and the mere thought of them leaving us and missing them is real, no doubt about it but the thing that shakes our very soul is the sudden awareness that we are not living a whole life, that like marionettes, we cave daily to the expectations of the world. It seems to me that these situations bring to light how much we are of the world and not just living in it. At least, it is for me.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings and feel free to leave you input as well in the comments below. I always love to hear them!


The heart of the matter.


So the sweet boy in the photo is Nob. He is the subject of my last book and will be 85 in a few months. He is now in an assisted living facility, in the Hospice wing. He’s still pretty sharp, witty, and funny but his heart is failing. He is of sound mind but his body is not going along with the program. I have sat with him day after day chatting, watching him sleep, eat, interacting with family and friends. It has been a life changing experience for me. Not that I plan to run out and scale a mountain or save the world but it gives me a keen sense of mortality…..in a good way. No pity or worry but gratitude. I am suddenly much more appreciative of my health, body, and mind. I have a new focus and responsibility to care for my body and mind because it really is such a precious gift that we ALL take for granted at some point. This is a man who is smart and good spirited but his body is failing as all of ours will. Get up, go for a walk, go to the gym, learn a new language, travel, drink in life by the cup full.

The Future….

As I age I realize that there is a fine line between facing the future and forcing it. In times of transition I think we often times have to embrace the inevitable changes with some amount of grace and dignity as we realize that kicking and screaming won’t help. That was my tiny stab at humoring a moment we all find uncomfortable. However, maybe it isn’t everyone. Maybe its just a certain sect of people that fret it. I, by design, am often hyper in my thinking, movement, delivery, and expectations. I need things to not only move at lightening speed but I need to know the how and why. I labor day in and day out with the why of EVERYTHING! My husband often times snaps me out of those moments by bringing up a scene from the movie, Rain Man. When Dustin Hoffman’s character Raymond repeats the famous ‘who’s on first’ scene from Abbott and Costello, his movie brother, Charlie Babbitt figures out that its a riddle he is trying to solve. So Charlie finally says to Raymond, “It’s not a riddle, its a joke. You will never solve it.” My husband will occasionally use that line to bring me back to earth when I’m caught up in the cause of the human condition, of change, and the uncertainty of the future. With all the changes going on in my life as of late I am only left to assume that God has one hilarious sense of humor.