In the dark days of late Fall into early Winter of 1998, I lived between worlds. Mostly, I walked, slept, eat, drank, cried and prayed in and around the ICU at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and on occasion would venture out onto the streets as family and friends insisted. As I reluctantly did so, I observed people living ‘normal’ lives in the midst of being on the edge of the life and death experience that I was immersed in. My husband had been admitted to the unit in a coma while awaiting a liver transplant as a result of Hepatitis C.
From November 11th to December 21st of that year, I engaged in what I referred to as “God wrestling sessions,” that had me proclaiming, “He’s mine and you can’t have him.” The loving and resolute response from the Creator was, “He’s mine and he’s on loan to you, like everyone else in your life.” That was the wake up call that cast me into the truth that he was likely to slip away and I would have no choice but to release him. Playing tug of war with someone who is in pain and on their way to their next destination is a futile endeavor.
It also had me recognize that the people who were gathered around me, both at the hospital and in support of us from all over the world, were fleeting beings in my life as well. In addition, what came to me was the reality that everyone we know and love will one day die or leave us, or we will die or leave them. Harder to accept since it is sometimes is seemingly random and unexpected.
In the past few months, we have been bombarded with news about celebrity deaths that sent people reeling, when in fact, people die all over the world, 24/7. We just aren’t aware of it unless it impacts us directly. Some of the deaths have been expected; such as if someone has an illness, while others come as a result of an accident, sudden heart attack or assault. A person may leave their home in the morning and not return.
It is easy to take those we love for granted and forget that hug or kiss heading out the door. We may neglect relationships and allow them to die on the vine, since they take watering and nourishing much the way a flower does. One of the things I pride myself on is being that watering can which showers people in my life. I was thinking about legacy the other day. I asked myself how I would want to be remembered. Here it is, plain and simple. I want people to feel loved in my presence, whether it is in face to face, hug to hug physical form or in essence/thought.
I tap into the wisdom of my friend Brian Hilliard who is referred to by his wife Arielle Ford as ‘a heart chakra on legs’ and someone our friend Jill Mangino calls a ‘love guru’. I agree with both descriptions by the way, having met him for the first time a few months ago. We had been Facebook friends who danced along to heart and soul stirring music and rode the wave from West Coast where he is to East Coast where I am. I happened to be standing in the lobby of the hotel where the conference was held when the two of them strolled in. Hugs were immediate and there was a sense of instantaneous recognition and homecoming.
His message today about our connection served up smiles.
“There ISN’T a DAY that goes by that I don’t pause and send you some love and good good thoughts Edie–our weekend in Phoenix was certainly a loving HUGfest but ONLY the beginning..cause I’m a “LIFER and beyond” in terms of my friendship and devotion to having a great time and expanded LOVEfest with all our LOVEtribe–and YOU are one of our conductor’s of the LOVE TRAIN indeed!!!!”
To be that blatantly loving and expressive eludes some people and yet it is what most of us crave. What stops us from being that mushy-gushy? And what keeps people from soaking up the juice? For me it is a concern that someone will feel overwhelmed by such effusiveness. It has played itself out that way from time to time in certain relationships, so I have toned it down, sadly. The second question reflects a willingness to feel worthy to receive such love showers from love show-ers.
I am no longer willing to bet on the chance that people will be here tomorrow, so I love them today.