Wednesday, November 09, 2011

In the 'Now'

Isn’t it strange how all of us are so close to death? Whether we believe it or not, we’re all vulnerable. No one is immune to it. What a “Debbie Downer” - who wants to think about that kind of stuff? We all want to think about living life and fulfilling dreams, but the reality of it is: it can happen - to anyone at any given moment. It’s strange, because the other day I was reading the bible, and in Ecclesiastes, it said to drink a glass of wine and enjoy life - to enjoy your lot in life. In proverbs, it mentions that the person who never thinks about death is a fool. Strange, right? I guess it can be interpreted as something else, perhaps ‘don’t take things for granted’ type of meaning, but I’ve found similar contradictions stating opposing messages. I think Proverbs has it right in some aspect, because we’re here for such a short time. Time flies and life gets busy. We’re too busy to visit our parents, our grandparents, our siblings, our friends - we’re too busy to enjoy life, period. People have children to care for, relationships and marriages to maintain and on top of that, jobs to hold onto. There's no balance. We make excuses and go on hoping that there will be a day when we’ll see our loved ones who are still here. “Oh, we’ll make plans soon” - and soon doesn’t come soon enough. I’ve heard many people say, “I should have visited him/her more often before they passed.” No one’s to blame. That’s how life is. But what if we ‘woke up’ and realized that life is in fact, really that short?

Lately, I’ve been hearing of people coming down with illnesses, young and old. I’m hearing “RIP” a lot more often, and that scares me. It scares me in a way that wakes me up - wakes my consciousness up screaming, “Spend more time with the ones you love!” ---But how? If the ones I love are too busy, I can’t. It’s out of my control. This morning, Mad and I were having coffee and she told me that her best friend Nancy passed away. I scratched my head and asked, “You have a best friend named Nancy?” She then explained it was a childhood friend from high-school. Even then, I have never heard the name slip from her mouth. Still, doesn’t matter. It upset her. She explained what an incredible person she was and that she was sad she didn’t maintain the friendship better. Although people separate for whatever reason, death really awakens us. It poses questions in our minds asking, “What could I have done better?” For some reason, death instills this kind of guilt; a regret if you will. But in the big scheme of life, should it really? We’re all vulnerable to it. Life happens. People change. There shouldn’t be regrets - only fond memories if possible, but the human mind will think back to a life once lived asking the same question over and over again.

My father is still suffering with bladder cancer. He’s gone in for two surgeries and went through radiation, but is still suffering so badly. He keeps crying, “I don’t’ wanna die!” My mother is extremely depressed and worried, and I can see it’s affecting her overall being - her overall health. He doesn’t want anymore operations, medical treatments and refuses to go to the hospital even if he’s screaming in pain. My parents are in their mid-seventies and feel that their lives are completely over. So, my mother has begun smoking much more and basically saying, “Screw it.” My father began smoking again too. Understandably. While talking to my dad, he was explaining a show that Dr. Oz had on. Now mind you, he gets his facts a little twisted, but this is what he said... “Dat Dr. Wachamacallit - wazhisname - dat’ home remedy guy was on TV. He had a panel of people who were dying of an illness who refused treatment. One girl said to him, ‘I don’t wanna die’, and Dr Wachamacallit said, ‘Don’t be afraid to die.’ How can he say something like that, Deb?” I knew the answer in my head but didn’t say anything. I know that we all die. I know personally, by my own faith that I’m not as scared as I used to be about death, but for humans, dying is the worst fear for most people. I just said, “I don’t know, Dad.” I’m not going to sit there and rattle off about spirituality while he’s thinking that he’s dying. Even with my own faith, if I have chest pains, I’m in the ER. What does that mean? I’m scared too. It’s normal. But my main concern about my parents going through this is that they have given up it seems. Some days are really good, while most days are filled with pain, sadness and even anger. They’re living their last days in such a negative way. No one hardly visits them anymore, they don’t see their grandchildren like they used to only because my dad can’t go out as much. As the youngest child of my family, I used to have this fear (still do) of growing old alone because everyone is at least ten years older than me. But when I see my parents living the way they do - I realize that having people around may not even matter. You can still feel alone.

I’ve been trying to help them, spend more time with them, cook for them, make them a cocktail or two, laugh with them more and just enjoy them now, while they’re still here. We laugh, have a good time, they reminisce about ‘way back when’ and tell their stories, even if for the millionth time. Oddly enough, the next day it’s back to the same type of mindset. What if we could just give happiness for one hour, or a few hours, maybe for a day to people who feel depressed, lonely, or feel as though they’re dying? What if we put some time aside to spend with our loved ones who may not be here tomorrow? Would it make a difference? Would we have less regrets, or any at all? Or does the human mind always fill up with bags of regret? Maybe it’s just our nature. We always have that little voice saying, “I should have done ‘this’ better.” Yet, we’ve done our best. Someone once said to me while their mother was going through a terminal illness, “I can’t visit her, it hurts too much.” And it made sense. Just seeing your loved one in such pain is horrifying. It may scare us, or even think about the inevitable. Some people can’t even walk into a hospital to visit someone they love, and worse yet, go to funerals. It doesn’t mean they don’t love them, it means there’s too much fear and anxiety involved, perhaps due to their own vulnerability or the fear of losing a loved one. If I have learned one thing, it's this: you don't have to skydive, bungee jump or travel to exotic places in order to "live life". If you have passion for what you do, love in your heart, laugh often and you enjoy whatever it is you do under the sun - your life is well lived. No one can tell you otherwise. Live in the 'now' and never regret anything. I can't say don't 'fear' anything, and that's when I look to God and scripture. This next scripture helps me when I'm feeling scared.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” ~Isaiah 41:10

And when it feels like there is no logic to unexplainable things that are happening, I turn to this scripture. It reminds me that there always has to be a balance.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com