In Mysterious Ways

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My friend lost a child yesterday. Suddenly, unexpectedly, and sadly, gone. He would have turned two years old in a couple weeks. He was loved by his Mom and Dad, and his two sisters. He brought immeasurable joy into this world when he was born. He will leave a desperate sorrow with his passing.
As a writer, I pride myself on being good with words. When I saw the post on Facebook, I was stunned… at a total loss. I had nothing to say in response to the family, and the many others who had commented on this sad tragedy. Every response I can think of seems inadequate.
How can I say something comforting? I just cannot imagine or construct the proper response. Really… is there one? Is there the “right thing” to say to someone when their 2-year-old, the light of their life, has suddenly left this world?
We place so much importance on such ridiculous stuff in our daily lives. Road rage, sports, jobs, video games, new cars, sneakers, politics, organized religion, the latest technology, and fashion. We live like we will never die. We focus on achieving goals. Long term goals, short term goals, financial goals, college goals, retirement goals, career goals. We yearn for materialistic things.
This won’t change. It’s how we get through it all. We keep putting one foot in front of the other… walking through this world until our number is up.
Sometimes it doesn’t happen suddenly, or so we think. We know someone is older, and they are ill. It crosses our mind that they might not make it. It may be obvious that they are at the end of their journey. Why does it still shock us when they actually die? Is it our eternal hope that we can somehow escape this fate?
In the end, what’s important?  We each have a chance to make a difference while we’re here. Never underestimate that. What you do with the time you’re given can make all the difference to the lives of others. We can be a positive influence and encourage people to do their best.
I have to admit, I’m one of those people that has great faith in the resilience of the human body and spirit. It always shocks me when someone actually dies. I guess I’m the one that thinks on some level that we’ll all live forever in one form or another.
Some of you believe in God, mother nature, or some form of higher power. I do. I believe that we are under God’s care. We may not understand how events like these fit into the grand plan. The fact is, we are not privileged to know the big picture. We cannot possibly be granted foresight and volition. Because we get to choose our actions, we can only guess the outcomes. Some things are obvious, and some are hidden.
So, while we may not know tomorrow, we can live today. Hold your loved ones close. Call someone that you haven’t talked to in a while. Smile at a stranger. Take your chance while you have it.   If you’re the praying kind, please pray for my friend and his family tonight.

-Cat

Where Does All That Stuff Go?

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This may seem like a weird title when the topic is metaphysical.  But it’s the question my husband had when his Dad passed.   What happens to “us” when we die?  We know that there are only a couple of options for our body once it has lost it’s usefulness.  But, that’s not what I’m talking about here.

We are preparing for the changing of the guard here in America.  There is a lot of talk about President Obama’s “legacy”.  What will he be remembered for?  What will we be remembered for when we leave this earth?  What about our legacy?

If you think about it, we are really only remembered for a few generations.  Unless you come from a lineage that has a famous, or infamous person, the memory of you only goes so far.  What can you tell me about your great-grandmother, or your great-great-grandfather?  Maybe you have some scraps of information.  But, I’ll be willing to bet that you couldn’t write a biography.

So, all the jokes we tell, the meals we share with family and friends, the knowledge we gain, the lessons we learn, our longing, our passion, our joy.  Where does that stuff go?

If you’re from a religious background, you’ll probably explain that it goes to heaven.  You might say that it gets recycled, and we’re reborn into another body.  You may think that we become ghosts, or spirits that roam the earth.  I’m not into zombies, but maybe you are.  Do we just cease to be, once people don’t remember us? Are we dispersed throughout the universe, Carl Sagan style?

That thought just makes life seem silly, the way most of us live.  Reaching for more of everything.  More love, more money, more happiness, more fame.  Whatever your “more” is, you’re probably pretty serious about it.

We worry about being late for the dentist.  We worry about paying our bills.  We worry about our health.  We worry about our job.  A hundred years from now, what will be the result of all that worrying?  It’s a pretty safe bet that it will not feature in the future landscape of life.

One minute we’re doing our makeup, cleaning our car, getting groceries… the next, dead.  There are quite a few sites, blogs, articles, etc. on living a “mindful life”.  I envy people who feel especially “mindful”, or that cultivate “mindfulness” in their lives.  I think that most of us don’t have things dialed in to that extent.  I know I don’t.

As you age, life becomes less and less like Summer vacations were when you were in elementary school.  Remember the long expanse of Summer?  You become more and more aware of the passing of time, and the value of it.  Probably because there is less of it in front of you, and more of it behind you.

I know that as a Grandmother, I tend to think “I haven’t seen Oscar in a month… a lot will have changed.”  Seeing my grandkids grow makes me more and more aware of how things tend to happen fast in life.  Ten years ago, I didn’t have any grandchildren.  Five years ago, I had two.  Today, I have six, and my seventh on the way!  Things move at the “speed of life”!

I guess that the object of the exercise is to reach the finish line with as few regrets as possible.  It’s so tricky, though, when you don’t know where the finish line is.

“We are like butterflies that flutter for a day and think it is forever.” – Carl Sagan

-Cat