"I am large. I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Elephant in the Room

"The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live." ~ Joan Borysenko

Do you remember when you were young and you fell from your bike or tripped from running? What usually would your mom do with your bloody wounds? Like my mom, would you douse it with alcohol and like me, would you cry your eyeballs out because of its biting sting? Do you remember how much you'd fight against it because you knew it would be painful and freakishly unpleasant?

When I became a teenager, I got into the habit of dousing my wounds with almost no second thoughts or trepidations. I have a get-it-over-and-done-with attitude when it comes to these things and I have held that perspective for a long, long time now. It's not that I wasn't afraid of the pain. I was. But if it is inevitable, there's a part of me that just automatically says, if I'm going to go through it anyway, might as well not prolong the agony.

So whenever I am afraid of something. I confront it.

With this post, I want to call out the current elephant in the room: thoughts of death. In particular, thoughts of death of the people I love.

Over the past month, my heart has been heavy. Two friends - one from choir and another from the office - both lost their mothers in the same week. I have an uncle who has prostate cancer and is now at home waiting to die. Another aunt - my Mama's sister-in-law - whom I visited just last Saturday, is dying of cancer too and was rushed to the hospital just the other day.

Death and dying all around.

And if you have aging parents like I do, you think about it more often. And when this past week it engulfs you and surrounds you and occupies the meanderings of your mind, you get bothered. And worried. And scared.

I'm calling it out now because I tell my parents constantly that what we are after is a quality of life. We are aware that our bodies are temporary and not made to last forever. But our lives give us the opportunity to serve one another in love, and it is in knowing that our time together is finite, that is the knowledge that propels and compels us to love each other now. Now when we are still alive. Now when we still have each other. Now when we have been given the gift of time.

I am made aware again that today is a gift. I call it out now - thoughts of death and dying - so that I can escape its grip. May I ponder on death only to appreciate life. May it fuel my gratitude for all that is. May it serve to remind me not to waste today. May it drive me to love my parents and family and friends and everyone He's lovingly sent my way and to whom He has graciously sent me.

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