Sunday, June 08, 2008


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.


Wandering Coyote said...

Hey Cherie,

I'm just getting back into blogging after a health-related hiatus. I'm glad to hear that things are going well for your mom and that your family has pulled through this, tougher and stronger than ever!

IndianaJones said...

such good news about your Mom. Wonderful, insightful and thoughtful post as usual.

Cherie said...

Thanks, WC and Summer!

Wandering Coyote said...

I just saw your post with the quote about the elderly over at Heightened Awareness, but when I click to go to the blog, it doesn't show. Stupid technology!

Anyways, it was a great quote, and I agree with it. Different cultures, different wisdom. We have to integrate it better, though.

Cherie said...

Sorry 'bout that, WC. That was my fault. I saved it as a draft while I was doing some editing, putting the pictures on and sprucing it up. It should be there now.

Yeah, it is definitely a different wisdom and culture than we are used to. You are right, we need to integrate it better though. It's not easy. Not at all. But we can do better. We're pretty spoiled here in the West and selfish, too. I know I am.

Mike S said...

It's so easy for even us slightly older folks to realize that we experienced death of loved ones differently as youths in a bygone era. An era where the elderly, frail, sick, dying, and all the rest of the family(at least in the area I lived)lived close enough to each other for constant contact. This meant we watched folks born, as children, and as they aged and died. It was just a part of life.

Even now, in most parts of this state, there are far fewer nursing homes per person than just about anywhere I've lived in the US and Canada. A lot of us old farts just keep on keepin' on until we just keel over it seems. Perhaps because even those disabled folks like myself are far more active and tenacious than in many places. Or maybe we're just too dumb to lie down & die:)

Cherie said...

Mike, tenacious old farts like you are my kinda people!

The perspective you give in your comment is perfect. Thanks for taking the time to share it.

Momentary Madness said...

Delighted to hear it.
"The Book Of The Living and The dead."
I think it should be compulsory to help/work among the dying (for a spell/time) to deepen our experience, and come to terms with death because it is a very big part (if not the greatest part) of our living.

tony said...

Your Key Word Here (for Me) Is "Delicate ".
Yes. Life's Great Paradox.
DELICATE and STRONG.Both At The Same Moment!
Bestest Wishes

Cherie said...

M.M. - Working among the dying does deepen our experience (for a spell/time), you are right. Seems like it deepens compassion and our living as you suggest. It does for me anyway. Thanks for the input.

Tony - 'Delicate and strong at the same moment.' It's weird but it's how it is. "Life's great Paradox." Thanks for the good wishes and your wise perspective.

Gardenia said...

Let me know how this herniated disc thing goes - I have 5 or 6 - I even forgot plus one that has torn through, then the squeezing of the nerves from narrowing of the spinal canal - I've had good luck with the nerve blocks though my feet still burn - I keep putting off surgery because, unlike your family, mine are off in their own little worlds - and I would probably have to recover in a nursing home, LOL! Anyway, let me know how this progresses - if her condition is similar - I will have a reference point. I hate to see your mother have to go through something so soon again!

I tried the non-invasive disc decompression therapy - I wouldn't recommend it - I went in with l herniated disc and the torn one, and a followup MRI showed I had a big mess after the therapy was over with.

Death - I know God does not view death as we do. Well, actually he did come so we could have that eternal life - but there is something about letting go of this tangible earth and those we've had around us that makes the wanting to hold on very vivid.....

Cherie said...

I'll do an update post on Mom right now, Gardenia, for you and others who are keeping up on Mom's situation. Thanks for your input, concern, and compassion. Means a lot.