I have a friend who is dying. Of course we are all dying but he is now at the point in his life where he knows what is going to take his life. He knows that the place where he now lives is going to be the last place that he lives. He knows there will be no more trips, no more dinners out, no more walks on the beach. He doesn't know when it will be....it could be today, it could be next month or it could be in a year but he knows that his time here on earth is dwindling away. We who love him know it too and it breaks our hearts.
It breaks our hearts because we are going to miss him. We've come to love and admire and respect this man and look forward to his arrival and anticipate his laugh. We have come to rely on his advice and to expect his caring, compassionate nature. Some of us, like me, have only known him for a very short time and others have known him almost their entire lives but no matter how long we have known him we have been touched by him and we are better people for having met him.
Years ago I had the privilege of being with my maternal Grandmother when she died. She was in a nursing home and we were aware that she only had hours left to live. I stayed in the room with my Mother and Aunt as we waited, quietly prayed and eventually witnessed her physical death. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced and I felt so privileged to be able to be with her at that moment. If you have ever been with someone when they have died you will understand what I am talking about. It is a profoundly moving and life-changing experience. It taught me that the body is strong and that it wants to live in spite of what is causing it to fail. It taught me that death is merely a transition and that this monumental event in life....no matter how it happens....is really just as simple as a single breath or a single heartbeat. There is no music....there are no trumpets. It simply stops. There is no more.
To think that my friend will one day no longer be "here" makes me sad. Even though I know and we all know that death is inevitable it still causes us anguish. Even if we have a set of spiritual beliefs that there is a better world waiting for our loved ones on "The Other Side" we are still sad. If there is such a place I know my friend will be there. He has lived his life as he should. He was given a gift, understood his gift and shared his gift with others. That, my friends is our purpose in life and it was what he has spent over eighty years doing for the benefit of countless children, adults, friends, strangers and everyone else who crossed his path either physically or spiritually. He understood his gift and he shared it with others. It wasn't the kind of gift that gets people in the newspapers. It wasn't the kind of gift that reaches tens of millions of people. It was, however, the kind of gift that, when given, spreads outward and touches the lives of people who will never know him or know that he is part of the source for it. It was and is his gift and because he gave it throughout his life it will continue to be given even after he has left us physically.
I know my friend loves me and he knows that I love him. I will be sad when he leaves it is true. I am sad thinking about it right now. What I know, however, is that his passing is merely a reminder for me to use my gift...to honor his legacy by being present and being aware in my life that the gift I was given was given to me for a purpose and that even though I may not completely understand it, it is part of something much greater than myself. When I use my gift I open myself to receive the gifts of others. I have experienced many wonderful things in my life but my life only really started to become what I knew it was supposed to be when I started writing this blog. I understand that this blog will not change the world. I know that these simple words on your computer screen are only my small attempt to connect with you and share some of what I have learned. I also know that being here and sharing this, my gift, with you is what I am supposed to be doing. It is my purpose at this moment. Through it I have been blessed with friendships I would not have had before and I have been given many gifts in return.
One day soon my friend will be gone. I will probably not be with him when he goes but I know he will be surrounded by love when he does. He will take a last breath as we all will and his heart will stop beating. It will be the end of this part of who he is but it will certainly not be the end of him.
One of my fondest memories of my Grandmother was driving with her in her red Corvair through the streets of Lakewood, Ohio when I was growing up. As I sit here writing these words a little red Corvair just passed my front door. I feel her presence and I smile. She is here with me now even though she left me years ago. She is here. She is peaceful and she is thankful that I am using my gift.