Today I sat by my sleeping mother as she began her transition to a better place. I kissed her and patted her face when I arrived in her cozy and comfortable room, but she didn’t rouse. I sat down and found myself contemplating life in general and the celebration of life in particular. It was quiet and somber. She didn’t hear me enter. The only sound was the steady rhythm of the oxygen machine that she was hooked up to. Mom was sleeping and didn’t appear to be in any pain or discomfort and for that I’m grateful. (Thank you Hope Hospice.) In her 93 years she taught high school home economics, and together with my father raised and educated three children. She enjoyed reading, gardening, meeting friends for lunch and after retirement, she and my father enjoyed traveling. They have been married 65 years.
During my visit, she opened her eyes once and looked at me as if I was a stranger. I gave her a big smile which she usually responds to, but today she didn’t. I stroked her hair and back for a while. Then she opened her eyes again, looked at me and started to cry as I resumed stroking her hair. I told her that it was ok to rest. She fell asleep again.
From there I went to my daughter-in-laws baby shower where family and friends gathered to celebrate the upcoming arrival of a precious baby girl. The atmosphere was joyful and celebratory. Lillienne is expected to make her entrance into this world the first week of June and my son and his wife are ecstatic! Of course I am too, especially since no one expected me to live this long. As I enjoyed the fellowship it occurred to me that the circle of life was playing out in my life right now. One life is ending and another will soon be born. It really is quite beautiful.
As for me, well I keep on keeping on as I continue to live with stage 4 lung cancer. I just returned from Mass Gen in Boston where I met with my doctor to regroup and discuss next steps. So, we have a plan. It’s good to have a plan. I see life through a very different lens these days. My sense of joy is heightened and I cherish the times I spend with my family. It hasn’t always been this way. I had to work through denial, anger and depression, but I reached acceptance quite a while ago and with that I am able to experience joy and gratitude for what I have. I especially cherish all the precious time that has been afforded to me. I was told 12 years ago that I had 3-5 years to live. So much for predictions. None of us have expiration dates.
Let’s all make the most of our journeys through the circle of life.