With lights flashing the ambulance sped past my pulled-over SUV. For a long straight stretch I watched that transporter of precious cargo, amber and red pulsing, as it hurried north up I-5 creeping further and further ahead until it was out of sight around many bends in the freeway.
"Lord, please give understanding and wisdom to all involved in whatever emergency lies inside that rescue vehicle."
How we humans cling with tenacity to life. We strain to keep the living among us. Most of the time.
Sometimes our efforts are futile, life ends in spite of all our knowledge, our longing, our prayers.
It goes the way it's supposed to, each person in his time. We in our western culture are overly protected from death, I think. We have visions of grim reapers, pain, sadness. Tragedy. But it's not always tragedy. It can be beautiful, death. When one has lived a full life, when wisdom has been imparted, gifts offered, love profusely expressed, well, it's not so terrible a thing to pass on to the next world. To be at peace at last.
The more one notices - experiences - death as part of the life cycle the more precious is life and living. Delicate moments and ages are fully appreciated when one understands their transiency. Words left unsaid by the disinterested are uttered by those who feel the breezes of change, sense the certainty of cessation.
And it's good to notice, to appreciate, to understand, to touch and sense life...and death.
My mom told me she loved me last week.
"I love you, Mom."
"I love you, too, Cherie."
It's the first time I can recall her directly speaking the words to me. I've always known she loves me and I've told her my feelings many a time. It took this life and death scare for her to find her voice. She doesn't like to cry, you know how it is. And it can be emotional to verbally offer up love when you aren't used to doing so. She wanted me to know. It has made a difference.
No, looking at death isn't all bad. Many a good comes from staring the truth straight in the eye. Good, such as feelings formed into words, actions toward those we love and take for granted, relationship and behavior revelations, spiritual testing which confirms and condemns then encourages.
Yes, under the surface of 'everyday life' - and in the midst of death itself - there are treasures for those who dare seek them, treasures hidden under fear, discouragement, disappointment, change... and tragedy.
Mom rode a stationary bicycle, "The kind that moves your arms, too!" for fifteen minutes a day ago. My mom, dad, and their four kids - me included, obviously - plus my sister-in-law gathered in Mom's rehab room Friday evening with the hope of 'all of us getting on the same page.' We live hundreds of miles apart so a face-to-face was quite helpful. A wonderful event, a party! Mom looks and sounds like herself 100%. Dad is more relaxed, though he's still a bit of a worry-wart. I baked cupcakes and gave one to each of us saying, "Every party needs cake!" We laughed together, ate cupcakes together - Mom was silent as she savored hers, licking the frosting off her fingers; it was cute. We planned and prayed together, parting after the sun had set but the sky was still light, the earth fresh from an early summer rain storm. I floated home alone, happy. We'll know Wednesday whether Mom will need surgery to repair herniated discs or some other procedure. Either way she should be home by the end of the month. Knowing her, it will be sooner. She's back! The fire is back in her belly, and the light in her eyes. So much have we learned from all of this. So very very much. Thanks, everyone! We're almost there.