We all know that our lives can change in a split second, yet we often go through our days feeling that life unfolds in a straight line. But we know on a deep level that some kink will eventually challenge us to wake up and possibly even bring us to our knees.
Having dinner with a friend one night, I suddenly started experiencing pain in my lower abdomen. Ten excruciating hours later, I was wheeled into emergency surgery where a surgeon removed a foot of my small intestines. And my life was saved.
Are we ever ready to die? At one point during this ordeal, I wished I were dead. But did I really? The human instinct for self preservation is so strong that I doubt very few of us are ever really prepared for death. When I look at myself, family and friends growing old, I feel a sense of wonder because we’re all heading in the same direction. It’s like we’re on a conveyer belt constantly moving us toward death – and sooner than we think.
I feel a tenderness for our species and the courage we have in the face of our inevitable demise. The flesh softens and thins, eyes dim, but we still take our vitamins and watch TV, like we can beat this thing called old age and death. My take on aging is that as long as I’m inhabiting this body, this physical temple for my spirit and soul, why not do all I can to make the experience as interesting, healthy and happy as possible. I eat well, sleep enough, watch my thought processes and have as many laughs as possible. Oh, and I use night cream, which probably doesn’t work but I apply it every night just in case it does.
Now that I’m in my seventies, I am devoted to creating balance in my life. I let myself grieve when I need to, but now I think it’s enough already. It saddens me that I’ve spent so many years without my family, working on acceptance and looking for comfort and peace. It’s like I’ve been recovering from an amputation – with no mental, physical or emotional prosthetic that will fit. My heart has had to simply keep beating, every day, every year. On its own, between breaths and tears.
So, since I’m still hanging on to that conveyor belt, there are some things I want to do: I want to write my son a letter to tell him about the back story of my life. I want to tell him that I love him, always have and always will. I want to write a letter to each of my four grandchildren telling them who I am and how much they mean to me. I want to have faith that my life has meaning and that there is divine order in everything that happens. I want to learn more patience. I want peace.