I received an update yesterday about my high school friend that I told you about in my July 4 entry. At the time, her doctors had given her a year to live. The doctors have now reduced that to one month to live.
I cannot find words to remotely touch on how this makes me feel. Probably the leading emotion is that it doesn’t feel real. I haven’t seen her in years and even then, we weren’t close friends. The reality of the situation is that if I didn’t know she was dying, I wouldn’t notice in my day-to-day life…but I do know. I will miss her when she passes because I know she’s gone and that the last month of her life was lived in fear and uncertainty, and I would imagine regret.
If I was told that I had 30 days to live, I think I would spend a great deal of time wishing I had done things that I’ve dreamed about, tackling projects I had put aside for another day and wanting to spend as much quality time with my friends and family as I could. This assumption is with me in good health and the ability to direct my own life, which she isn’t. She will likely live her final 30 days in a hospital bed in a distant city from her home. I can’t help but feel for her and the turmoil that is likely filling her head.
I think it’s time to talk about religion. I’m not sure how long this entry is going to be as I begin typing because there are so many different angles I could come from. Let me start from the beginning.
As a child my family didn’t go to church regularly or even frequently. My father’s side of the family is Roman Catholic, but I don’t remember them going to church regularly either. When we moved to the town where I still live when I was seven years old we went to the Catholic Church for a while – I remember a few ‘standard’ visits as well as Christmas hoopla visits. I don’t remember why, but we stopped going. It could’ve been simply that my mother worked shift work as a nurse and we simply didn’t do anything on a regular schedule for the majority of my childhood.
Through the years I remember going to a few other local churches with my mother – usually at Christmas time until I hit about the age of thirteen years old when I declared to my mother that I thought it an insult to the church that I was only going annually for their big spectacle, that I didn’t believe in whatever they were preaching and that I was no longer going to attend for Christmas. She respected my decision.
University opened up my mind. Philosophy classes were a wonderful place to explore God and religion. I had a block in my head that couldn’t reconcile God with my life experiences. In my mind “God” was an old, gray-haired and bearded man who sat in a big chair making sweeping arm gestures to control the universe – who lives, who dies, what is good and evil. I couldn’t comprehend how seemingly rational people could blanketly believe in a dictated God and accompanying doctrine and church that tells them how they should live without a shred of concrete proof.
I talked about this a lot with a lot of different people because I knew (I have a lot of those things in my life – something I call truths in my life that I cannot necessarily show you proof for) that there was something greater than me, that it contained a lot of mysteries, but also that it was very much within reach to me and that when I died, I would know the answers to my questions. A wise friend of mine finally showed me that my hang-up about the word “God” was my biggest problem. I remember the day when I decided that “God” for me meant ‘energy’ – globally, personally – in you, in me – everywhere and in everything. It wasn’t a person or something you can touch – it’s everywhere. Around this time I also was reading The Celestine Prophecy. The energy discussion exists in there as well. I highly recommend the book. I re-read it every few years.
I know (one of my truths) that I possess energy that I can re-charge by being in-tune with myself and nature and that I can also pass/share with others that I feel need it more than I do. When I was in university I was a Resident Assistant in the student residence. I had a life-changing experience when I was trained in suicide prevention, and then got to know myself much better when I spent countless nights “talking down” people who were beyond simple depression. I spent those entire sessions channeling my energy into them and, when the situations were happily resolved, I would be emotionally and physically drained for a good day and had to sleep non-stop for about 12 hours to even remotely be able to function again. I have since figured out how to not give my energy away, but instead how to share and also continually re-charge my own.
My parents are intelligent, rational, capable and interesting people that I consider friends. Since they retired about seven years ago they began attending church in the tiny rural community where they live. I have had long conversations with them about this because I value their opinions and insights. I truly believe that when they say they’re praying for me, their energy is being transferred over the entire country and landing on me. I have seen physical proof of this that I won’t get into here and now. How they choose to recognize their ‘God’ is their choice…I just know it works.
When I question how someone my age could be given one month to live, I do ask the question of: why, God? Is there not enough energy on the planet and in the universe for her to go on? Is there a higher purpose for her living a shortened life? What lessons has she learned in that short life that she is now finished her time on earth?
I can tell you that I am certainly learning a lesson from her illness. I have tried to live my life with appreciation for what I have, but, like most people I whine and complain about life’s little injustices – having to deal with uncooperative and non-productive co-workers, not earning enough money, family & friends being sick and dying, being treated like a number at the bank. What I take from this experience is that I am not appreciating it all enough. I am not living a full-enough life by enjoying those around me, as well as sharing enough of myself with those around.
I pray for my friend and her family. I do my best to share my energy with them to not only help her to get better and beat the doctors’ odds, but also for her family who are probably drained of their own energy just trying to not break down.
My God is in me and you and all around us all. Harness it and share it with those that cannot do so on their own.