Friday, June 26, 2009

on death, dying and choosing to live

Yesterday two icons died. We mourn their loss. We think back upon their lives and the memories we have of them. Meanwhile, J is in LA visiting a friend battling breast cancer, while another fights the fight to survive. Two of my family members have died of cancer −my mother to a cruel and perverse disease. To date I know twenty people who are fighting the fight, or who have survived another year, or have lost the battle. I am one person who knows twenty and this does not include the ten or so that died of AIDs back in the day.

I think of my father who attends funerals on a regular basis now. He is 87 and his friends that are dying are of the same age. Only a few of his friends died young. Most of the people I speak of are my age or younger. Just few a little order.

And so I sit and ask myself, am I doing what I want with my life? Do I spend my hours and days living my life or just biding time until I can get to where I am going? Life is short we say. And it is. I ask myself, if I were diagnosed today would i have regrets about what i have done with my life? Would I feel proud of the person that I am? But most importantly, would i spend the rest of my days doing what I am doing presently? The answer doesn’t take much consideration. It is NO. I would spend my days, reading, writing, doing art and helping others. I would spend my days growing, spreading my wings, laughing, and making other people laugh. I would fill as much space with laughter. I would spend my time trying to be a better person in every way, and I would start with the small stuff…like being a better listener. I would try to get back to being the person I was before I was hurt so many times. Get back to giving even if I don’t get back in return. I have put up walls. I have stopped listening, I have stopped offering my hand, I have closed myself in and I want to get back out. I want to smile more, I want to stop worrying… about everything….HAKUNA MATATA….that is what I learned from my Godchild today…it’s from the Lion King apparently…no worries for the rest of your days. I like that. And when I worry about money, I need only remember what a spiritual guru (whose name I do not recall) once said when asked, “and where will I get the money to do this?” - “from where ever it is now” he replied. Sounds like an answer to me.

So,NO. the answer is NO. I would not be spending my days sitting around and waiting to hear what I am supposed to do next. I would be doing what I am supposed to be doing. I would be living my life.


  1. From working in a hospice you get the same savage but wising up lesson - no one wishes they had spent more time in the office.
    Living in the now is an achievable ideal, even if no one is perfect at it. My answer to the question, "would you be doing what you are doing if you only had n' months to live?" - is YES.
    No more digging up the past and re-living it, no more worrying about the future or rehearsing for it. Yes, I carry my past around as memories and losing these would mean losing myself - as you must be only too painfully aware. But to live in the now just means to enjoy the moment - our only reality - fully by being awake and aware surely? seeing something properly involves forgetting the name of what it is you are looking at...

    I was taught by a good counsellor to be more forgiving of myself and more accepting of my failures - that new outlook has helped deal with the hurts over the years. Long talks with my friend Steve who lost his wife to breast cancer at 44 and their only child at 19 to sudden unexplained death, make me appreciate just how hurt you can be without giving up on laughter and joyous creativity.

    Not waiting... that's why I took up flying, laughter therapy as a profession, and crying whenever I feel like it.
    Even from this distance I can see, - you have so much to be proud of Victoria - the aspects of yourself you tend not to see I suspect, those things you mention as if they are not there already, in abundance: generosity, creativity, caring, laughing, loving.

    I'll shut up now.

  2. What you wrote is our heart's desire - to be spending our days being fulfilled by the goodness we can take in and the goodness we give out. I just LOVE what Pat added to your post - our reality is here, each and every day we get up, slog to the office and try to put on a good face.

    I am taking both messages to heart - to try to live each every moment of each day - even the long tedious ones - with a full and open heart. To find the joy that comes from these moments, even when they are hidden.

    I love this part of what Pat wrote...
    "...the aspects of yourself you tend not to see I suspect, those things you mention as if they are not there already, in abundance: generosity, creativity, caring, laughing, loving. " Indeed, it's all there.