some day i'll bring you flowers, frozen flowers of death by e3000 on flickr

“Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.
The Carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality”
Emily Dickinson

 

 

This past week I have been exhausted by things as simple as walking, sitting, and just plain healing.  It has been a frustrating process segwaying back into work only to come home every night too tired to even think let alone write.   I find myself daily contemplating my own fragility, the tender care I have to give to this soft human soul casing.  I have been eating as healthfully as I ever have, trying to give my body the rest it requests from me, and becoming a regular acupuncture patient at a local Doctor of Oriental Medicine’s office who specializes in endometriosis.  With each day I feel more solid, more complete, more functionally human by all those standards we judge ourselves–mobility, brain function ability, and functionality in the workplace. 

 

And then the other day I find my thoughts meandering, after a particularly vivid and grotesque depiction by a client of experiencing the death of a loved one, how I have never seen death.  I have heard it in the therapy room in story after vivid story but I had never seen it, watched life leaving another human being and staring that moment of mortality in the eye. Figuratively that is what I do all day, stare life and death and morbid recollections of others in the eye, but literally, palpably, I had never had to experience it.  I wondered what that was like and how I would react given that confrontation.

 

Last night I was given my chance to see–morbidly, grotesquely, painfully, and in a shock inducing way by the side of a road in a small town on a quiet Saturday night. 

 

I saw life leave a human being in a haze of squealing tires, smoking brakes, mangled bicycle, limbs flying, life leaving, wife screaming.  I will not talk any further about the incident itself,  but I will say it was more than I ever could have imagined in death and more than I would ever have wanted to be a part of. 

 

I found myself last night unable to sleep, unable to process, unable to eat, unable to both think about it and think about anything else.  The shrill screams of a soon to be grieving widow echoing in my ear and the sight of ground pooled with blood and brokeness repeating in my mind. 

 

I found myself waking today with those same thoughts reverberating through my conciousness and aching in my soul in mourning for so many lives that were touched by one moment in time and one small blip on the timeline of human existence that I will never forget.  In a minute a woman lost her husband, a man lost his life, another faced with charges of vehicular homicide in front of them, and a crowd of people–“witnesses” both in legal and philosophical senses–who will carry the memory and fragmented moments with them forever of the sight and sound and brutality of watching such a death occur.

 

I also found myself reevaluating my own reality.  Life, such a fleeting and fragile experience, that gives us no promise of tomorrow or no foresight to know how many tomorrows we have to live.  Living for today, loving like now is forever, and making choices as if they really matter has really become alive in me in a way like never before.  That woman who lost her husband was my age, could have been me, and that thought makes me rethink my whole world view in a way I never could have imagined–reframing what is important and what is urgent in my own life. 

 

All the clients and the years of hearing about the carnage of life and death in an instant of pain and screaming and blood is something I have heard often, heard daily, and my empathy was something I thought covered the weight and circumference of such an experience.  Now knowing what it means to be witness to that moment when a life goes out in this world in such a graphic fury of motion and gruesomeness I find myself knowing my client’s experience in a new and personal way.  It is something I never wished for but an element of human experience I now share with them.

 

I feel life today in a different way–both tainted with pain and sadness and simultaneously made furiously bright and real and scorching with urgency like never before.  I love my husband more profoundly.  I feel the sunlight on my face with more appreciation.  I want to do the things I feared for no valid reason at all because I should–because it’s time and there is no guarantee of time to come.  I want to care for my body in the ways I know how because all we can control is our actions in this world and try to have reverence and preservation of the life we live, the body we have, the good things we do in the world, and the things that we can do for others today. 

 

Live in the now.  Love the ones you love as much as you can.  Be sincere in your endeavors and only endeavor in those things that are sincere.  Be your best you today and be grateful for every today that you have. 

 

cemetary angel 002 by AdamSelwood on flickr

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”

James Dean

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