Friday, January 29, 2016

Life is Life... Fight for it!

I love to collect inspiring life quotes!  It's one of my favorite pastimes.  They bring me comfort, make me laugh, make me think and almost always help me realize that I am not walking through this life alone.  All of us are similar in one thing...  life is not planned.  Sometimes it takes you by the jugular, twists your arm behind your back, punches you in the gut but it also has moments of peace, happiness, and can bring you solace in the most surprising places.  Every now and then I find an inspirational quote that quite simply says it all and speaks to my inner demons and angels.  Today I read this one and I can't get it out of my head:

There are lots of reasons why I love it.  The most important one being that it comes from the heart of one of the most profound and inspiring women of our time ~Mother Teresa.  I don't think that anyone can ever really deny that this woman was one of the purest souls to walk this earth.  Her ability to spread love without judgement and with great clarity was always awe inspiring.   We definitely lost a powerful angel on this earth when she passed.  And, if we are smart we will learn to live by her example in all ways we are able. 
The other reason I like this quote is that in one paragraph it reminds me of everything that entails a well lived life.  If you are following these simple rules then you cannot look back and say, "I wish I had...  " 
As I contemplate on these words of wisdom and look back on the life I've lived so far, I definitely see those times that I unfortunately wasted.  But, I also see many times that I jumped into the deep end of the ocean and found out that I am made of tougher stuff than I thought.  I have climbed to the tops of many peaks and have benefitted from the beauty that lies before us each and every day if we take the time to make the climb up to the top.  I have challenged myself many times at doing things no one else wanted to do and have occasionally failed at those tasks, but I have also achieved many successes.  I have had many doors closed to me but have also seen just as many doors opened.  I have lost friendships over the years, but have also gained a few that are solid, steady and strong.  With all the gains, losses, struggles and wins, I have learned that life is indeed a precious commodity and worth fighting for no matter how hard that fight may be. 
We do have a duty to ourselves and to those around us to be a source of comfort, healing and hope.  We do not have to be rich, or perfect, or pretty, or skinny, or famous in order to do this.  We just have to be aware and be present.  Being present in someone's life is the most important gift you can give to anyone.  It's more valuable than anything you can buy.  The gentle touch of a loving hand, the comforting embrace of a well given hug, the healing effect of a small act of compassion or kindness, the sincerity of a well meaning prayer, the ability to sit with each other in silence...  but, most of all showing someone you love them enough to show up.  I cannot tell you how invaluable this one act can be. 
In this world of computers, internet and social media, many people have lost site of the value of being present.  And even though I LOVE social media and have found comfort and solace from many people who take time to send personal messages and words of support, nothing is ever better than the real deal.  Human beings need physical love, touch and the look of sincerity from a person who isn't afraid to stand in front of you in you time of grief.  I read a blog post recently that said it perfectly:

"We are not waiting for her to die.  We are helping her to live." 

Being present in someone's life gives them hope, courage and strength.  If you really want to make a difference this is a powerful tool that you can use, you only need to be willing to make the sacrifice. 
Now, I'm not really talking about myself in this regard.  I am lucky to have many people in my life who show me unconditional support and love.  My inspiration for this post comes from hearing stories from other stage IV patients who are feeling abandoned, tired and un-loved.  They feel like everyone is just waiting for them to die.  Or, they get tired of walking along with them on this difficult road which can be emotionally exhausting.  It makes me sad and also makes me afraid that after a few years has passed that all of the people I love might slowly start to move away from me because it's too hard.  I'm surprised that this happens...  I don't want it to happen to me.  Because if that happens I will no longer have any reason to fight. 
What I want to tell all of you is this:  If you have someone in your family who is struggling, don't give up on them because it's hard.  They need you...  and, there is so much to gain by being with someone and helping them until they take their very last breathe.  These are life lessons that can not be learned any other way.  You have to experience them for yourself to understand. 
Being a caregiver is one of the toughest jobs anyone will ever have to do.  I had to do this for my mom summer of 2014.  I spent virtually 3 months never leaving her side.  In the quiet moments we spent together in that hospital room one thing was clear...  she was afraid, she didn't want to be alone.  I know now that the greatest gift I gave to my mother didn't come in a beautifully wrapped package.  It came with my presence.  I learned an invaluable lesson that summer.  It takes a tremendous amount of sacrifice to give love and support.  But, it is the love that we carry in our hearts and are willing to give to others that provides strength.   
That old saying:  "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger...  "  Well,  sometimes it doesn't matter how strong you are, death will follow you anyway.  But, strength to endure a road that doesn't lead to victory can also come with many blessings.  And, I am stronger because of the sacrifice I made for my mom.  And, I am able to fight my own fight because of the battle I helped her fight.  It is really strange how life always finds a way to take you by surprise.  I think my mom would be happy that in her own weakness she was helping me prepare for the most difficult battle I would ever face.  She would've liked knowing that she has played a small role in helping me fight. 
Well, I went way off topic from where I originally planned to go with my post today.  But, sometimes I just like to let these things flow out of my heart and onto the page.  Perhaps today at this moment someone will read this and it will help them in some small way.  I hope so, it gives me a reason to get up every day and continue on with hope, courage and strength. 

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