Home, I said. In every language there is a word for it. ~ Mary Oliver
As you slip towards the end of your days, what do you need in order to know that the work you came to do is done? At the long end of that tunnel of light, looking back, what do you have that will help you behold a life well lived, a love well given, a journey completely and courageously taken?
Maybe you’ve yet to do what you came to do; maybe you’ve yet to become who you came to become. Or maybe that undone thing, that unpaid debt, that unkept promise—maybe this diamond in the rough of an unfinished life is more polished than you think. How can you know? What would it take to leave this life feeling ready to go? Continue reading →
When it became clear to her that there were no remaining treatments to be tried, all that energy that got tied up in staying alive was suddenly freed for the one last thing on Laura’s mind: As a mother, she blew it. She blew it with her daughters. She blew it with her sons. She blew it with her own mom.
She’d taken to hoisting a limp hand and, in that Down-Under twang, saying, Lymphoma Laura, pleased t’meetcha.Telling herself that all the time she thought she had to get it right was gone, she was eyeballing death in the belief that she had disappointed everyone.
How? She just never said the right thing. She just never found that comforting combination of words and sounds that made a kid feel at home. She could joke and she could jab but couldn’t say the stuff moms were supposed to say and one day, she clammed up. And once she realized she was fixin’ to die, she thought of nothing else.
But now, she didn’t just want to parrot that long lost lyric—I love you—she wanted to communicate the music of love in such a way that it could be turned to, sotto voce, for comfort, at any point in the remaining lives of her sons, her daughters, and her mother. She knew exactly what she wanted. Continue reading →
Just because I was born
precisely here or there, in some cold city or other, don’t think I don’t remember how I came along like a grain carried by the flood—
~ Mary Oliver
The last days of our lives, whether several years or just a few weeks, are as different, mine from yours, as the number of us who will stand before that tunnel of light, our entire lives billowing behind us like Christo’s Running Fence.
And then again, the moment of death is the same for everyone. Each of us will know the rhythm of the liver and the kidney and the heart, shutting down one by one. Each of us will know the filling of our sails with that one last suck of wind. Each will know the severing of that invisible umbilical that links the body to the soul. Continue reading →