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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Traveling To Someplace Else

As most of you know I lost my father-in-law on the 23rd of February. There's really nothing we can say or do when somebody we love dies. We must adjust and move on. This is life. And miraculously we do move on, putting one shaky foot in front of the other until we're someplace else.

I've resurrected this post on mortality. It seems appropriate in light of recent events. It is my attempt at moving forward while embracing a great loss. I hope you enjoy it.

I’ve been contemplating my own mortality lately, which I blame on a run of unexpected deaths within my small tribe of family and friends. Since the beginning of time people have come and gone. It’s as natural as the sun, and the air, yet it still seems utterly barbaric to me; particularly the way some of us die.

Truth really is stranger than fiction, and if I were to write a book about a planet where people mysteriously disappear, without a trace… forever, it would be considered science fiction. Yet, this is our reality.

Nobody really knows where we all go when we die. I like believing in heaven, no more tears, like that baby shampoo, but I’m rather clueless as to what heaven really means. I comfort friends when they lose somebody, telling them how natural this cycle is, but I’m ashamed to admit that on the inside I’m really relieved that it wasn’t me or my loved one.

This dying thing is totally unnerving.

The young seem nonchalant about death. Of course their bodies are still under warranty, needing just fuel and tires to operate smoothly, but my warranty has long since expired, and each morning I suspiciously eye my body in the mirror, hoping it will get me where I need to go for the day.

Some people live with death in mind, taking their vitamins, and avoiding the proverbial cracks in the road of life. Others dive in and tempt fate, trying such stunts as bungee jumping, swimming with sharks, or online dating. Me…. I defy death in my own timid way; like ordering the double mocha-choka latte in lieu of the skinny one.

My mother used to tell me that I was put here in order to learn how to trust God, love others, (including mean people) and love myself. Good answers. But when I’m lying awake at 2 am, rehearsing an argument that I will never have with my neighbor, because his dog won’t stop barking, these answers seem irritatingly cliché.

Why go through so much trouble learning all of these lessons if I’m not going to use them for long?

Perhaps I’ll be using my acquired wisdom in some place more evolved? A heavenly place not contaminated with the rage of hate, or selfish indifference. A place where acceptance is not based on appearance, or wealth, and love is spread generously, like butter on bread, and shared with every hungry soul.

Our planet is awe-inspiring. It’s alive with creatures that move to a set rhythm, working toward the common goal of survival. When I see a tiny humming bird hovering at a bloom, carefully navigating a sip of nectar, it moves me to tears.

I’m fascinated at the nervous hesitancy of a gray squirrel approaching an open field, cautiously surveying the danger level, and then running like hell with its tail all wild and fluffy, until it’s safe again in the refuge of a great tree.

All of these things speak to me about the cycle of life. I often feel superior to the creation around me; perhaps because I can walk on two legs and have the ability to use hand tools, but in reality, I am small, and I must follow the same natural laws as the squirrel and the humming bird.

Right now it is my turn to walk this planet and then the next generation shall replace me. My footprints will fade as the tide of years washes over them, but I believe that my spirit will venture onward, strengthened by the harsh lessons of this journey, walking an unknown road to a distant land which some have named heaven.

While I'm here I want to live big, and from my heart, so that in the end I can smile and say, “I’m ready for my next journey.”


♥●• İzdihër •●♥ said...

Reality of life is death.
I am sorry to hear about your father in law.
Just found your blog.Following it.

Care to follow back.

thormoo T. Davis said...

Leah, my sincere condolences on the passing of your father-in-law. I agree with you that such is life, this is part of it and really all we can do is move on the best we can. The "shaky foot in front of the other " analogy perfectly describes it for me.

I have long struggled with the concept and reality of death and dying. Having had a near death experience...there were no white lights or anything but I nearly died and I remember odd things about the time I was supposedly (dead)."

I welcome other peoples perspectives on it because I have always had questions and it was a subject that we absolutely did not talk about specifically in our household while I was growing up. And the fact that I was exposed to a great many deaths as a child then I lost a half dozen friends of my own before I celebrated my 22 birthday.

I don't question or debate other peoples belief's, I just don't....but I appreciate when people share them therefore I appreciate you sharing this with us today. Especially at a rather difficult time in your own life.


The Loerzels said...

Leah I love the butter on bread analogy and I love that you are celebrating living by drinking a non-fat mocha-choco latte. Cheers kindred spirit!

Cheryl said...

How appropriate that I would be reading your blog this morning. I am getting ready to take a 7 hour drive to my grandma's funeral. Last week she was a fit and feisty 100 year old and then she took a spill in her bedroom.

I too, am finding myself pondering more about the inevitable fact that we are all here for a limited time. Not necessarily due to my loss of my Grandma but serveral friends have died recently as well. You hit the nail on the head with some of your points. Our faith is It is not a absolute defined answer as to what happens after death. I try to look at things from the perspective of not being "sorry" for things I can't undo. I suspect as we lay on our deathbeds the regrets could weigh heavy. My goal in life is to live well and work on having fewer regrets.

Leah Griffith said...

Idziher, exactly. There is no getting around it.
Thanks for you post and follow.

Leah Griffith said...

Thormoo, thank you so much for you sweet post. I'm curious... do you remember anything from your experience with death? I've never come close to death myself, but many people who have had brushes with death usually come away with some unique tales to tell.

I had one experience when my mother passed that I'll never forget. I actually felt the presence of her escorts when they came to help her transition. I know it might sound hokey, but it was as real as a rock.


Leah Griffith said...

Cheryl, I'm sorry for the loss of your grandmother. Wow, one hundred years old. That's amazing! I'll be praying for you and your family as you absorb the loss of such a dear family member. Please drive carefully.

Like you, I run on faith. We simply don't know what goes on on the other side. I guess we're not meant to know. Maybe it's so wonderful that none of us would want to stay here... we'd be jumping out of windows left and right trying to get back to paradise;)


Leah Griffith said...

((((Marie)))) Sending hugs! What a crazy world;)

melissa said...

Thank you for giving your perspective and reflections on mortality. Does it just come to mind when someone close to us dies? We'd laugh out all the high level cholesterol intake we have each day and say we're gonna die anyway, why not enjoy life (to our own detriment)...

But the truth is, it is a beautiful life. There's so much in it to learn, acquire and discover and I'd like to exhaust every means to live it to its fullest. So I'm taking care of myself now so I could take care of others...and then be ready for "my next journey"...

I bookmarked this so I could always go back to your reflections :)

Leah Griffith said...

Melissa, when I was young I felt invincible, smoking, drinking, eating whatever I wanted, but then I became a parent which greatly influenced my lifestyle. I'm glad that you're taking care of yourself. As you said, life is full of beauty and you intend to live it to the fullest. Me too;)

I'm so pleased that my words inspired reflection. Sending love your way Miss Melissa <3

Kathy said...

Leah, along with others, I'm sending love and hugs your way...
As you write, right now it is our turn to walk this planet...may we do so with with love, generosity, kindness and abundance...Kathy

janaki nagaraj said...

This is a beautiful post Leah. Nice to know your perspective on living.

Anonymous said...

I spent a few months looking after my father in law.... What I witnessed was both ugly and beautiful.
Death is but natural..however to see the last breath is a miracle. I was lucky to be a part of this. This experience has changed the way I see death.

Leah Griffith said...

Hi Kathy, it is so good to see you. Yes, we need to walk with love so that our kindness can flow.
I hope you are doing well.

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you dear Janaki. Although perspectives are like shorelines, they have a way of changing over time;)

Leah Griffith said...

Saviragupta, it's like watching a birth in a sense. Beautiful and bloody. Death is a sweet release when one is suffering and a robber when we are content. Nevertheless, we must live with this shadowy companion.
Thank you for your thoughts.

Dangerous Linda said...

Dear Leah! ~

Like you, I find it amazing that we walk around acting like everything's 'normal' in the world while knowing full-well that we're all going to die. Science fiction, indeed.

I awoke from a very realistic nightmare not ten minutes ago, and now I'm reading your post, somewhat bleary-eyed.

Feeling my mortality. Holding you in my heart as you go through your process. Grateful for at least this one more chance to connect with the world of the living...

Namaste, My Friend

Martha J. M. Orlando said...

Such a sensitive and deeply moving post, Leah. I believe, sincerely, that until we can accept death, we truly cannot begin to live.
Blessings, my friend, and know I'm still praying for you and your family.

Jessica said...

I am really sorry for the loss of your father in law. Realizing the impermanence of life alleviates none of its pain when it chooses to manifest itself in our lives. Our mortality is assured and what lies beyond, no matter what we'd like to believe, is simply a matter of faith on our part and really unknown when it comes down to it. What I've come to accept is living moment by moment provides the most meaning to life, at least to mine. I do believe that God is love and from love we were breathed out into this world and to love we shall return.
~blessings to you and yours

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

I share many of the questions you have expressed in your post, Leah, questions whose numbers seem to grow as I age. But, there is one thing I know for certain, something does come to guide us to the next phase. You had mentioned it in one of your comments above, about feeling their presence when your mom died. I did also, when my mom was dying. She told me she could see a garden and when I swore, admonished me for using an explicative in front of them, saying "Can't you see them?"

Rimly said...

Leah I just lost a very dear friend of mine two days back. I have been thinking about my death for a long time. More in the line of how and when. I guess we all do at some point or the other but the trick is as you said that we should live with our heart to the fullest. However short or long our life may be we should live it fully with our heart and soul.

Alfandi said...

I lost my son in 2010..he was 12, a car rammed into him..there is a hole in this heart that will not close forever, I think..

Leah Griffith said...

Alfandi, I am so sorry. Words can't soothe a wound that goes as deep as yours must. I can't even imagine the pain. This world has teeth. That's what I always say.

This is very different, but I feel led to share it with you. When I was a young girl of 11, I saw my friend and his little sister get struck and killed by a car. To this day I feel the pain and see the images.

I don't know how you manage Alfandi, but your photography is beautiful. You still see beauty and somehow capture it for the rest of us to appreciate. That really is amazing.
Thank you for coming here today and telling me about your son. I'm sure he was an amazing young man.
Sending love and prayers.

Leah Griffith said...

Linda, I try really hard to be mindful of the fact that each day is a gift. There is so much I still want to do. Yet, we never know do we.

I'm doing much better since Mike came home. It's nice to have company when you're sad. Thanks for your visit. I always enjoy your company;)

Leah Griffith said...

Martha, thank you for your loving support. I believe that you're right about accepting our own deaths. When we're young we don't think much about it. Somehow we believe that we will be the one to escape death's boney grip, but as we age, and begin losing loved ones, we start to realize that we too will some day make a final exit into the unknown.

I trust God with the details of this journey. I'm much too small to figure it out on my own.
Sending hugs and gratitude,

Leah Griffith said...

Jessica, I am learning to live in the moment, because as you so beautifully said, the moment is all we have. I have faith that if I was meant to know what goes on after death, I would know it. I guess it's not essential knowledge for living our life on this planet.

You said, "I do believe that God is love and from love we were breathed out into this world and to love we shall return."
This is an amazing statement. One I intend to hold on to.
Hugs to you sweet Jessica,

Leah Griffith said...

Oh Karen, I can just imagine your mom all full of heaven! And I snickered at you cussing in their presence. LOL!!

I believe what you say, or shall I say what your mom said. They do come for us. I felt their presence. I love the idea of being guided back home. It makes leaving not seem so scary.

We are just passin through;)

Leah Griffith said...

Rimly, I'm so sorry about your friend. There is something disturbing when a young person dies that I don't experience when a senior dies. The senior has had a chance to live and pursue their dreams, but the young person was just starting out.

I certainly don't understand a bit of it. But I do trust God with it, which in a way is an answer in and of itself. Of course your friend may have been a senior; I don't know. Either way you understand what I'm saying.
I'm sending my love and prayers your way Rimly.

Widow_Lady302 said...

Beautiful, heart rendering post, Leah. Is life after death something you'd like me to write about in some fashion? I'd be glad to share my views if you want. email me ;) Because in the end views are all we can share about that subject right...Much love, and hugs to everyone who commented about their loss, and of course to you Leah, as you take your own journey to find meaning <3

Leah Griffith said...

Good morning Lisa, it's great to see you here. I love hearing people's thoughts on life after death. This is one subject we all have in common and it's a biggy.
We all have to face our mortality and the loss of loved ones. I know that you lost your husband and father all within a few weeks of each other. I can't imagine the pain you must have experienced. I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
Sending love,

Jayne said...

"Why go through so much trouble learning all of these lessons if I’m not going to use them for long?" Ah, yes, this and other great existential questions of life... What for? Why? It is so hard to let it be.

I love this piece of writing, Leah. It's honesty, alone, is breathtaking. Don't we all thank God, it's not US? But the time will come. We are deluded--but I think it's all right to have such delusions-- so long as they keep us going, searching, trying to live life as best we can. As big as we can. Otherwise, what is the point?

Peggy Strack said...

Hi Leah ~ What a well-written, thought provoking post. I appreciate your honesty and emotion. The video of pollination is amazing. Thanks for sharing this with us. ~ Peggy

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

It's so hard to say goodbye to someone we love. Your words made me think--as usual.


Jan said...

I just lost a family member myself last week, this post was touching and real for me. Couldn't have come at a better time. Thank you.

I am sorry for your loss hun hugs to you.

Leah Griffith said...

Amen Jayne. I believe the older I get the more I want from life. As Bonnie Raitt says, "Time becomes more precious, when there is less of it to waste."

Leah Griffith said...

Hi Peggy, thank you my dear. I'm glad that you stopped by.

Leah Griffith said...

Jan, I'm sorry for your loss too. I'm happy my post spoke to you. I'll be remembering you in my prayers.

Leah Griffith said...

Debbie, it's the one "normal" fact of life that none of us will ever get used too.

Tameka said...

Leah, I'm sorry you lost a loved one. Everything you've written here are things I have thought about. When I was younger I never thought about death until someone died and even then it felt foreign. I thought, "Oh, only adults die." Then my cousin who had not even turned 14 died. My world changed then. I knew then it could happen to me. Of course it happens to us all, but it is mind boggling how we live or can live such lush lives knowing we are going to die.

I guess that is the reason why we should live life out loud, right? ;-)

Thanks for always making us think deeper! Hugs and comfort to you during this time.

My guest post on digital publishing on The Monice Magazine:

Leah Griffith said...

Tameka, when you lose a loved one as a child it stays with you in a strong way. When you say your world changed when your 14 yr old cousin died, I totally get it.
There is nothing left for us to do but live big before the big dig;) Sorry, that just slipped out. *grin

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