In this moment, things are as they are and cannot be any different. Ignorance of this simple and obvious fact is a principal source of suffering.
I read this, and re-read it, and re-read it. Again and again and again.
I remembered that:
- My father is 82 years old, and has lived a long, eventful, productive, loving and blessed life. Truly.
- My mother is 62, and knew long before I was around to help her that a long span of years separated her from her beloved, and that she and he would reach different points in their lives at different times. She was strong enough to go ahead, and is strong enough to keep going.
- I am 29. With all the rawness, and all the experience, that entails. It's probably completely within the order of things that I feel simultaneously capable and totally adrift when it comes to questions of life and death and health and happiness and love and loss. That I do not know the answers to how to deal with these things totally gracefully is not in itself a cause for frustration at myself, but an invitation to simply keep walking with my eyes open and that's all.
- I have love in my life and have done, all my life. With all the power for healing that that entails. And my father is still here. My mother is here, and a beautiful sister and a beautiful lover and friends. Grieving in advance - as I have been doing for years is likely to kill, first my relationships, and then me. So stop.
- It's okay to feel angry that this is how things have always been. I have lived my life waiting for an axe to fall. Everyone does, in a way. The knowledge of impending ends is a curse and a gift to everyone. But for me, and for others like me who live with people who are ill over a long time, the gift and the curse are an everyday event, not something brought into focus once in a while to 'get us to appreciate what matters' after we've been 'asleep' in the routines of our lives for years and years. It's every day, but never feels routine or comfortable. When I'm feeling tortured about this - and it doesn't feel self-indulgent to admit that it feels torturous (this is a blog, after all :) - I feel like saying: I feel like the Grim Reaper has been chasing us for 20 years and I can hear his footsteps. This makes me angry. As a defense. Angry that I feel driven to live as if every single moment matters because I know that it does. Any moment the axe could fall, the sky could open.
- But: This is the way things are. I cannot wield anything but my reactions to them. I can make things easier for myself and others by continuing to express the highest aspects of myself in this situation rather than fighting against the lowest. Reveling in the blessing, and forgiving the curse. Allowing myself to feel at peace when the axe is still raised, when the sky is still closed, and trusting that if things change, that is still in the order of things and so, ultimately, I will feel peaceful again. And so will everyone else. With or without my help.
When I remember these things - and I hope the word is remember, and not invent - I cry tears of relief rather than tears of despair.
Today is a good day.
Off to work.