I have a birthday coming up and I have been reviewing my life. If I died tomorrow, what would be left unfinished, especially when it comes to matters of the heart? What do I want to say, to write about and to whom? Where do I want to go, what do I need to do? Have I said all I want to say to my son? To my loved ones and friends? What would I like my grandchildren to know about the heart and soul of me? Have I been kind enough, unselfish enough, grateful enough?
I often remind myself that, one day, I will leave this world. Death is not a popular subject in our society, which is strongly identified with the physical body and is in denial about its ultimate demise. I’ve been guilty of this myself and have lived much of my life as if I had all the time in the world. These days, if I’m mindlessly watching TV, I find something else to do. I might meditate instead of sitting in front of a flickering screen. I might read, write or put on music and dance around the living room. I might close my eyes and send love to my beloved son, my grandchildren and to all my dear ones. I might go outside, take off my shoes and feel the magnetic pull of the earth under my feet. I might look up at the stars and remember the wonder I once felt as a child. I might just be still, hold myself in a loving space and thank the gods for the innumerable blessings in my life.
I’m working on not thinking about or engaging in anything that is nonessential. For example, when the TV is on, I mute it during commercials about abused animals, disfigured veterans or prescription drugs and their alarming side effects. I’m concerned about these things, but I can only do so much to help or change it.
My son called recently with the grandkids on speaker phone. It was a surprise and when I heard their voices, I was filled with gratitude. I enjoyed the call without wanting anything but that moment. By fully and mindfully accepting this situation and understanding that I’m absolutely powerless to change it, I have a new sense of peace.
I never thought I’d say this several years ago when my heart was breaking, but my predominant feeling now is gratitude. By making friends with the inevitable (death) I am grateful for every moment on this strange and beautiful earth. Every tree, every laugh, every moment with loved ones has become precious to me. I practice mindfulness by paying attention to even the smallest activities, such as the feeling of warm, soapy water on my hands as I wash dishes. Most days, I have a sense of joy because I’m still here, healthy and relatively sane.
And what about the kids? By consciously detaching from them I have set myself free. After many years of stress and sorrow, I finally understand that the situation is nonviable. I have no way of knowing if circumstances will improve, but I’m hopeful that they will and that love will prevail in the end. Until then, I am doing my best to live each day with vibrancy, integrity and gratitude.