Just over a year ago today, I was hospitalized for sepsis and acute renal failure – just after I had a kidney stone. It’s not the first time I have faced death and laughed in its face (okay, it’s really been more exhaustion, but laughter sounds better). Most of these have been due to Lupus and its natural complications, but at least one was not. If I were a cat, I think I would be dead already.
This does tend to make cherish life even more.
As a hospice nurse, I learned a lot about living and dying; regrets and memories. My patients taught me a lot and those lessons stick with with me. Humility. Worries about family. Responsibilities. Joy.
But somehow, when faced with it myself, I don’t think I portray those heroics or acceptance. I don’t want to go gently into that good night. I’d like to claim that I raged and raged, but found myself without the rage, as well. Having survived them all (so far), I find that I slip gently back into “normal” with a few more conscious moments of what life should be about.
Life is messy and chaotic, fraught with emotions – both good and bad. Living is being present – day-to-day, planning, reacting, regretting, rejoicing – in things both small and tall. Life is what we make it. And if we think that facing death has an impact on us; well, it does. I thank God every day I wake up. Pain is merely a symptom that I am breathing.
People often ask where I find this unceasing energy and “perkiness.” It is not unceasing. My family can attest to that. But there is some truth in it. No matter where. No matter what. No matter when. There is always something good, because I am still there to experience whatever it is that is happening. It may not be a pleasant occasion (the death of a loved one comes to mind), but I knew that person, loved that person, and was loved by that person. That is a blessing.
So I am grateful to experience this thing called life. “Electric word LIFE it means forever and that’s a mighty long time.” No matter how long or how short a time we have on this earth, it’s a mighty long time to immerse ourselves in living. Don’t just survive. Thrive.