There is something about the human spirit that allows us to go through life with a sort of screen between us and the reality that our lives will end. Of course, we know no one lives forever, but until some auspicious moment when reality hits, we act as if it won’t happen to us. That’s how I was until I had the stroke and almost died a year and a half ago. Now I savor every moment of my life, knowing without a doubt the end is coming. It’s a new sorrow that I deal with each day. But every cloud has a sliver lining.
I struggle to put into words the way I’m feeling. I suppose millions upon millions of others have felt this way. But I feel compelled to share it — I always think somehow that if I have the courage to share my feelings and life experience, maybe it will help others face their fears, better understand what they are going through, and move on to become the best they can be.
So here’s how it feels: I love every moment of my life since I almost died. Even the bad stuff. I feel like it’s “extra time” I was given to enjoy and learn and reach out to fulfill my purpose. I know — that sounds like a lot of hoo-ha to some people. Corny, probably. But if such an attitude toward life could be real, wouldn’t you embrace it? I guess that’s what I’ve done.
I find myself wishing I could have embraced life this way a little more before the stroke. I would have stayed a little longer, hugged a little harder, smiled more often and dug into life with more gusto. But I am determined to do so in whatever time I have left. This has brought so much joy, peace and satisfaction to my life in the last year and a half.
Then … suddenly … I’ll think about the cold, hard fact that I WILL die within a number of years. There is no getting around it. Will it be from another stroke? Will it hurt? Will I have a chance to say goodbye to my kids, family, friends, clients? What will people think when see my stuff and clear it out of my home? And then I feel sorrow. I think of all I will lose. I’m feeling it right now! I have a lump in my throat and my pulse has quickened. If you gave me a hug right now, I’d probably cry.
The sorrow is deeper than it has ever been.
How am I supposed to deal with this? In the past, my sorrow had to do with what I had already lost. Now, I barely think about that. (Bonus!) The new sadness and emptiness I imagine at losing ALL of this is almost more tangible and deeper and feels more real than the old sorrow.
Today I moved into a wonderful new apartment home — the kind of place I would never have imagined I could or would want to live. I have always liked living “low” — frugally and simply. It helped me focus on the important stuff. But now, through a series of crazy events, I’m living what many would call “the dream.” I’ll still live simply, but in SUCH a beautiful place! I’m not rich, but my budget accommodates this wonderful place right now. And I got a great deal because I’m one of the first on the property.
And all I could think about this morning was how it will feel to lose it.
Someday I might have to downsize again and move back to a more inexpensive place. Or I might die.
Which leads me to wonder: will I even know what I’ve lost after I die? Will I see the streets of gold and face of God, as Christians say, and not care what I’ve lost? Will I be aware of the sorrow my kids, friends, family and clients feel at the loss of me? It’s sobering and kind of upsetting, and I feel embarrassed to be focusing on this instead of taking in all I’ve been blessed with. But something wonderful has come out of this sorrow.
Because I care more than I have in a long time, I want to understand this reality. I want to seek. I want to come to terms with my new version of sorrow so I can deal with it and enjoy the time and experiences I have left. My brain keeps surprising me with a desire to expand my spiritual side. Horrors! No! That’s corny. Wishful thinking. Isn’t spirituality just humankind’s sad, desperate bid to “be okay?”
Religion has always both intrigued me and maddened me. I have daily conversations with God as I move through the good, bad and ugly moments of my life … just in case he/she is there in the moments I really need someone to hear me. But I have always felt God is outside my bedroom window looking in — listening to me, but not talking back. Grrr. Maddening.
Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older and mellower. I’ve given up the need for proof or a personal supernatural experience that proves his/her existence to me. Maybe it’s just that after having almost died, I really want it to be true. I don’t want to go on to oblivion when I do die — which I know on every level now is coming. The streets of gold and the face of the ultimate Father sounds pretty damn good.
Anyway, this new sorrow … now I’ve documented it here, and that in itself has helped me get my head around it. Maybe it’s okay to just let it be there and flow over me like water over rocks in a stream. But I’m going to channel it off so the side, just so you know, and get on with enjoying my extra time.
“Time is too short not to love each other to death.”