Death is Real, Even on Mother’s Day

At the Core of it, death is a funny thing….not literally obviously, but it is one of those controversial topics with respect to what happens leading up to, during and after the passing of an individual.  Religion aside, it is hard to argue that the subject of death can leave one feeling mortal, without control and often mystified; yet, we know that each one of us will face it ourselves, along with the other many times that we will encounter it throughout our lives as loved ones pass.

Death is not a new topic for me.  My earliest memory of it was at the tender age of nine when my Baba passed away peacefully (thankfully!) in her sleep at aged 84, after some time spent in a Senior’s home.  All I knew then was that even though I could see her body in the casket at her funeral, she wasn’t really there and I had been told that she wasn’t coming back.  It made no sense, it usually doesn’t.  I also remember how devastated my mom was, as were the rest of us, and to be honest, some thirty-four years later, I don’t think she has ever fully recovered.  I am not sure you can and actually, I am not even sure that we are meant to ‘recover’, whatever that is.  Our lives are indeed forever changed when faced with such a close loss of life, if for no other reason than the clear physical separation.  Beyond that, however, we are human beings and by nature, we define ourselves based on those around us–when someone is no longer in the here and now, it leaves a space, usually in our hearts.  Sure, markers of time may come and go, and we are told that time can heal, but the rawness of those kind of emotions never truly go away.   It doesn’t always have to be bad in that we can use grief and sorrow as an opportunity to grow and change in positive ways (i.e. learning to value the small moments in life, getting out of unhealthy relationships, motivation to pursue our dreams, spending more time with our loved ones, prioritizing one’s role), but at the heart of it, a piece of us will always be missing that nothing or no one can EVER replace.  Some of us learn this the hard way and get caught up in trying to fill the hole(s) with all sorts of things, many unhealthy.  Here’s the truth:  We are individuals and while we may be expendable, we are NOT replaceable.  Our souls are connected and we are one because of that (remember that I am choosing to keep religion out of this), but the oneness changes.

Since my Baba’s death, my extended family and circle of friends has slowly become smaller and smaller, as I reach middle-age.  Many a death have happened, both young and old, expected and unexpected, self-inflicted, accidental or otherwise and all have been tragic in their own way.   I have attended more funerals than weddings or celebrations by a long shot, and each time, it is all the more sobering than the last.  Daily life goes on for the rest of us who are left behind, but in that instance of loss, the world becomes a different place than how we knew it the day before.  We evolve the best we can, but sometimes it just isn’t good enough and that is because it is not enough.  It never will be.  Good enough would be to have our loved ones back with us again in this world, but….

As I read through many of today’s posts, I saw tributes to many moms who have passed on.  So many people wishing to see or talk to their mom one more time, remembering often the good times, but sometimes the challenging ones too.  It is sad and thought-provoking and very real.  At brunch with my own mom today (for whom I am most grateful is here to spend Mother’s Day with), I learned about a close family friend of ours who died this past Thursday.  She just celebrated her 50th birthday in February, first learning of her cancer diagnosis six months ago.  Time froze when my mom told me.   Goosebumps rose and my racing thoughts began…

But how?  Why?  *Sherry?  Can’t be!!!  What?  Why?  She’s only a few years older than me.  My brother will be 50 in a month.  What if it had been him?  (Selfishly), thank God, we are all here.  Oh my God, her family.  How is her mom doing?  Why didn’t anyone tell us?  What can we do to help?   When is the service?  How did she spend her last few months?  Was anyone there at the end?  Will she be reunited with her dad again?  What kind of cancer?  I hate cancer.

Sherry.  50.  Gone.  My next door neighbour in early childhood.  Her family, my family, friends, ALWAYS.  Camping, laughing, fishing, travelling, birthday parties.  Forever changed.  Funeral this coming Saturday.  This is real.  Death is real.

I will do my best to celebrate Sherry’s life.  I am sure that that is what she would want.  I also take comfort in somehow knowing that she is with her dad.  ‘Maybe that is why this was her time?’  still thinking….  After twenty years apart, it must have been time to be with him again.  Now, they will be together forever.  I think that’s it.  I can only hope that’s it.  

*Name has been changed out of respect for the family.  

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My Own Canvas

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Like a blank canvas,

On which I get to write my

Very own story.

That’s why I keep going back

and back,

& back:-).

 

Place in the World

Slices of Lemon Sky

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While there are a few interesting lines in this sunset picture, it is the seeming appearance of lemon slices in the cloud that really caught my eye.  Then again, maybe I am just a ‘sucker’ for all things cumulus?  Ha, ha.  Either way, my hope is that the imagery above has the ability to pucker up a smile on your face, even if it has been a sour kind of day;-).

A cumulus cloud’s,

Sour-like appearance leaves me,

Craving meringue pie.

Lines

Spring Awakening in Two Dimensions

Looking outside our front windows this very moment is a bit depressing, I am not going to lie.  Even though it is the middle of April and ‘spring has (supposedly) sprung’, you would never know it here in the Great White North of western Canada as a lovely blanket of snow STILL covers the ground, with drifts as high as half-way up our fence-line.  We are nowhere near where we should be temperature-wise for this time of year and a fresh bit of snow fell again this morning to remind us that Mother Nature is not done with the white stuff yet.  Really?!  Isn’t six months of winter enough?

After spending the last two weeks in Hawaii on holidays, there is a part of us that is grateful that we were away for the bitterly cold records set (close to -30 degrees Celsius) and as such, we feel somewhat unjust in complaining about what is now wherein the thermometer hovers around zero; however, the other part of us is left craving the sights and smells of freshly mown, green grass, the sun and its warmth shining on our faces, and the various songs of birds carrying from newly blossoming tree to tree.

Now to focus on a more positive note, the hours of daylight have stretched out which means that going to and from work is a lot more tolerable.  We also have a great many pictures from our trip to help keep our hopes up that soon enough, we, too, WILL have a spring Awakening and if not, perhaps we will skip straight to summer, which would be just fine with me.  Meanwhile, as a lover of flowers, here is one of the many snapshots that I will hold tight to until we can plant our own colourful delights to admire.  The size and vibrancy of this jellyfish-like flower makes me smile.  For now, I’ll take what I can get even if in it’s only in two dimensions in my i-Phone photo album.

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An Alien Resemblance?

As soon as we came across this Inchoate flower at the Kula Botanical gardens in Hawaii, we had to snap a picture of its alien-like resemblance in the ‘before’ stage.  Not to worry, though, the end result is much prettier as you can see:-).

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45 Years of Wisdom Speaking, If You’d Care to Listen In…

I am in my 45th year of experience here in this world of ours and I’d like to think that I know a little something about something.  Well, sometimes, anyway;-).  There are moments in time when I will admit that it is hard to believe that me, little Sue of the family (the youngest and only girl), is unequivocally a middle-aged woman, however not only do the numbers tell me so, but at times, my body and/or mind chimes in–you know what I mean?  It is strange though because, at times, when I think of myself, I still imagine being a youngster of sorts.  I find this ‘younger version of me’ phenomenon seems to happen most when I am with my family.  I guess because they are the individuals that I spent my formative years with and that is the lens with which I seem to associate us all…like we are all suspended in time from say, 30 years ago.

We have all heard people ask, “If you could go back to your younger self and give some advice, what would it be?”.   Well, here it is…like it or leave it.  Totally up to you.

  1.  Life really is short and the years do go by more quickly as you age.  Never wish time away.  Often the anticipation of certain milestones leaves us as young people wanting to just get there (i.e. a teenager, of driving age, adulthood, etc.), but really the anticipation OF is the best part, so enjoy it.  It will come and it will also go and you will never get it back again.
  2. If in doubt, don’t.  Those words are etched in mind thanks to Ms. Oprah Winfrey.  Doubt means your intituition knows better.  Listen.  Or at least, learn from it if you choose not to listen the first time.
  3. Take risks and learn to let go. Don’t Haul yours or other people’s ‘stuff’ around.  Let go of societal expectations, the stories you tell yourself to avoid being real, of certain fears that hold you back, of childhood baggage that will surely define you, but ONLY IF you let it.
  4. Trust in yourself first.  Always.  It is not your trust in others that matters.  If you don’t trust yourself, then you can’t trust others much like loving yourself.
  5. Realize that anger is just a mask, usually for sadness or insecurities.  Get to the bottom of it sooner rather than later, or it will eat you alive from the inside out. Honestly.  You don’t want to awaken one day only to discover that you truly do not know who you are, where you have been or why you have done the things that you have.  (Addictions of all sorts are often rooted here.)
  6. Be yourself.  At the end of the day, no one really cares as much about you as you do.  You might think they do and yes, we all pass judgement in some ways to find our place in this world; however, it is for that exact reason that you should be authentic.  Everyone else is just trying to do the same and because of that, they are too busy with their own stuff to worry that much about yours.  We all have egos, right?  Don’t pursue your superego or get caught up in your id.
  7. If you don’t like something in your life, change it.  You are the only one who can.  Complaining or worrying about it won’t do any good.  Ever.  (Unless you wish to ride a merry-go-round with zero results or forward movement.)
  8. Be kind and loving to your body, which includes your teeth and your feet (floss and avoid heels/ill-fitting/cheap shoes).  Your body really is your temple that is here to serve you, but you also want it to last you a long time.  Though you’ve heard it before, I’ll tell you again…everything in moderation.  Sleep, eat, drink lots of water (your body is 80% water, it needs it) and be active.  Meditation helps too, however that may look or sound like to you.
  9. Dreams really do come true, but you must work for them and believe in yourself.  Aim for the stars, if you like, but be willing to chase after them.  The reward will be greater for it.
  10. Give love, not hate.  And, most importantly, be open to receiving love and the vulunerability that comes with it.  Accept only healthy, loving relationships that enable you to become the best person that you can be.   Sometimes, this means having to cut toxic ties with family or friends and that is okay, if it does not serve you or them in a good way.  Tough decisions undoubtedly, but worthwhile ones. It’s not about forgiving or forgetting, it’s about letting go and moving onward and upward.
  11. SMILE. RELAX. ENJOY. LIVE IN AS MUCH OF THE MOMENT AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN.  It really is the best present that you can give yourself.

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Perfectly Timed Vacation

You know, as I sit leisurely on the lanai for our tenth straight day,  I am trying to think of the word/words to describe when a planned vacation just so happens to fall during record-setting Frigid cold temperatures and snow back home.  Joy?  Happiness?  Lucky?  Blessed?  Relief?  Pure and absolute pleasure?  A sense of perfection?   How about all of that and more, times a million?  My, oh my, how fortunate we are…thankfully, none of this experience is lost on us; we will gladly soak up all of the sun and warmth again today-).  Mahalo Maui, you have been kind!

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