Thursday, October 18, 2007


Life doesn't stop to ask you whether you're ready - for anything.

My mom took another fall and didn't call anyone for a day. She is in the hospital and sounds so incredibly weak and discouraged. She doesn't want to let the hospital do a CT scan (she is claustrophobic) nor does she want any sedatives. This may change, but it's hard to be so far away. I will travel to see her next week.

I'm struggling with lack of sleep today. Normally energetic, I can really feel the weight of my mom's loss of mobility and her flagging health in my own body.

My brother, Stephen, has been great, taking care of her house, her dogs and cats. Stephen's wife, Kelly, and her family, have also been amazing, pitching in with garage clean-up, painting, laundry, you name it, to make sure my mom has an inviting place to come home to.

The question is whether she will ever be able to live independently again. I just went through this with my dad. It breaks my heart and I can't help but feel sad.

As one of my teachers, Richard Strozzi-Heckler, once said, "You are hearing the waterfall." When I looked at him quizzically the first time, Richard said something to the effect of:

"You float along on the river of life, hit some rapids, some bends in the river, and accept the changing course of the river. Then you start to hear the waterfall. Over the years, you hear it more clearly. And then you get that you won't live forever."

I've shared that metaphor many times. Right now, I feel dunked back into the big questions. How am I spending my time? What is important to do (and not to do)? Am I on course? How do I really know?

Sadness whispers to us about the nature of life and how the loss of everything we love is inevitable. Strength and courage are not enough to navigate these experiences that hurt. Breathing helps. Talking helps a bit, and then silence and just being with it all helps in turn.

Tears burn when I think of my mom, rescuer of homeless pets, unable to lift her legs in bed. Tears burn also when I recognize the grace and beauty of this moment, pain included.

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