Life Does not Discriminate

My beautiful Grandma

There was a time when I could not wait to write. I formulated. I thought. I wrote entire posts in my head and when I finally had a free moment, I would race to my laptop, sit down and the fresh, new words could hardly contain themselves before they lept out of my brain, through my fingers and onto the page. I do not know it if is because I am older, much more protective of what I say, more resolute (meaning less unhinged) or just simply because I am so out of practice. Nowadays, instead of flowing like an easy river,  I have to twist, shove and push myself to even sit in front of my laptop. And words, well, they seem much more comfortable staying right where they are, stuck in my brain.

Just two days ago I attended the funeral of a dear friend’s father. The man who died was almost eighty. He was kind, well loved and had been sick for a long time.  I am guessing that after years of suffering, he was tired and ready to go.  And if you believe that there is something beyond this life, like I do, then you probably would have sensed what I did. It felt like my friend’s dad was somehow there with us and that he was letting us know that life moves on and that he is happy. I don’t always experience that kind of happy peace when someone dies.  I did this time.

What I could not get out of my head, however,  was all of us who have been left behind.  Maybe it was what Dave said at some point during the weekend, “Everyone’s dad seems to be dying and it is getting a little weird.”   Maybe it is that all my peers are getting older and thus our parents are getting older and closer to the end. Maybe it’s the fact that the days we have in front of us are shorter than the ones we have left behind.  Maybe its all of these things.

I keep trying to find the right group of words to convey what I saw, what I felt and what I experienced this weekend.   I am still struggling.  What I do see is how completely delicate life is. Instead of watching our grandparents die, Dave and I are at this weird sandwich space (that I have mentioned before). We are raising our own children while instead of watching our grandparents die, now it’s our parents. Just a few years ago Dave’s dad was hiking with us at Sugarloaf Mountain, MD and now he is gone. It is also strange and difficult for me to see my own parents, who I always saw as so strong and so knowledgeable,  lose who they once were.  When my dear mom forgets that she told me the same thing already, instead of admitting that she is more forgetful because she is getting older,  I rationalize and say, “Well, I do the same thing myself.” It scares me, makes me really sad, and I am just not sure how to express it. I am totally freaked out by this. I cannot stop thinking.

And then at the funeral, there was this moment, a moment where a beautiful young woman, who seemed about my age, was wheeling her stroke-stricken mother up to their seat. As they passed, I looked into the mom’s eyes and as I watched her try to communicate without words and really any motor control whatsoever, I could see that she was trapped. She totally knew what was going on and could do nothing about it. Then, I started to cry.

I am getting old. We are all getting old. I know people of all ages deal with all sorts of health issues. I have watched my own young son deal with his own life-threatening and life-changing health issues. However, if you somehow missed bad health in your youth, life has this very cruel way of  evening things out.  Life does not care who you are, how much money you make, how pretty, how rich, how mean or even how sweet you are. Life does not discriminate. If  arthritis, heart disease, a stroke, cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS or all the other cruel diseases do not get you, then life seems to go for the mind and I just do not understand.

We are raised to strive, to thrive, to succeed and to better ourselves. hen, each and every one of us, gets old and we die.  And even if there is nothing beyond this life, I want there to be. I need there to be and that is why I believe there is. I like to think my dear Grandma is just a thin layer beyond my reach. I would like to believe that when I sat in that room in my house on 1500 South and 1300 East all those years ago, that I really did feel Grandma Koener there. I want to believe that she was hanging because she really liked our guest room and that she wanted to reach across and let me know that she is still here. I need to believe there is more.

So when I saw that beautiful woman at the funeral trapped, I want to believe that she will have beyond, that her kids will see her well and that she will be free.  When life strips away our beauty, our physical strength, our vitality and our mental facilities, I need to believe that this is not the end. And  mostly because  life can be absolutely cruel, I need to know that after we die, that we somehow keep on living.

9 thoughts on “Life Does not Discriminate

  1. I don’t hide the fact that I believe – nay: I know it in my bones – that this is most definitely it. When the heart and brain cease to function, life is finished. Which is, of course, a horrific thought. And because it’s so horrible, it makes this time of living so exquisitely sweet. There are no moments to be wasted because one day there will be no more moments at all.

    I really like that. It forces me to pay attention to the people who are really important to me, rid myself of the people and things that do not feed a joyful life and pursue maximum fulfillment every day. I’m not perfect, mind you, but that’s my guiding philosophy.

  2. Leanne, thanks for your words. I love them. So, to be clear, you think that after we die, that there is no more? I love hearing what people believe and then how they live their lives based on how they believe. Very cool. Life is sweet too. I was definitely having a moment.

  3. I know that because this life is both bitter and sweet that there is purpose in all of it. I know that they struggles and trials are for us to learn and grow because we will need all of that for the next life that is eternal. I know that we are to appreciate every minute of this life because yes it is short. I know this because I know God loves me and He loves all His children and that those who have lived in pain or suffered from disease their whole life that a loving God has something so beautiful planned for everyone in that there is more to come. I believe like you Beth that the veil between heaven and earth is so much closer than we know. Our loved ones who have passed on are so close to us we can at times feel their presence. They are comforting us and assuring us that all is well. I too have felt the presence of loved ones passed on and because of that I know without a shadow of a doubt that there is life after this but that this one counts for so much of what is to come. It gives me hope knowing that I will see my family again when I am taken from this life. Even knowing that this life ends and another one is yet to come doesn’t make me any less appreciative for this precious time on earth. When you have moments like you did don’t take it for granted that is God. As horrible as some of this things we go through in this life are they are but a fleeting moment. I had a friend who spent most of her life in pain and battling cancer after cancer, when she passed she visited and said how much she missed her body..can you imagine, the thing that caused her so much pain she missed it and can’t wait til she is reunited with her physical body again. My ancestors have given me so much comfort in some of my darkest moments it has been amazing the stories I have of love and healing. They are near and what a blessing it is to have had a moment like you had of knowing your Grandma is at peace and that you will see her again. My Dad did not believe in God until my brother died, he was 2 yrs old. After his death my Dad could not believe that that was it that was all he gets 2 yrs! He has felt on several occasions the presence of God letting him know that no that isn’t it and he will see his son again. Knowing that saved my parents marriage, it gave them hope. My children need that hope as I deal with cancer, and I am so grateful for all of it.

  4. I am with you, Beth, that there is more for us after our lives on Earth.
    One of my biggest fears is of getting old, although at this very moment, we are all getting older. I know I look older than I once did and I see the same things in my parents’ faces when I look at them. Life is short. My mom struggles with arthritis…a friend in her 30s fights breast cancer…it makes no sense to me. I once was reminded in therapy that I am not in control (God is) but I can control how I react to things. I need to react by living each day to its fullest, as suggested by Leanne.

  5. Amen, Robin! I could not agree with you more. And today what go me through was the nap I was able to take this morning.

  6. Andrea, Sorry for the delayed response. I took the week of Thanksgiving off. I am not surprised one bit that you concur with me. I love what you and Leanne both said, “Live each day to the fullest.” It is true, most things are out of our control. I am happy for the moments, the good health, awesome experiences and fantastic relationships I have. I am grateful! Thank you Andrea!

  7. Leanne, I took last week off to travel with my family. Sorry for the late reply. I love how you feel about life. And also find it very interesting that you were raised Catholic, so were my parents. Thank you for being willing to share your perspective. You are cool!

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