Tag Archive: Why


Wave

I’ve avoided writing about a difficult topic for some time. Today I found myself writing about it to a friend. But in so doing, I found I couldn’t stop.

Click the image for relevant background music. She’d like this version of one of her favorite songs.

The act of writing–as it often does–helped me step back and consider the topic, the circumstances, and see things in a new light. And that helps. So I suppose that means it’s time to post this.

My mother is dying.

Mom’s cancer has progressed, and she is staying home now, sleeping/laying down most of the time, and not really taking in any nutrition to speak of. The ladies from the personal care service have been fantastic and are spending most of the day and all of the night at her place. A room at the hospice center would give her the same 24/7 support, but this is what mom wants — a few weeks, maybe days at this point per the RN.

I get mom to smile a few times daily. Her thoughts are clear since coming home from a respite stay at the in-patient hospice center a few days ago. Although weak, frail, and losing weight, she’s in a relatively good space for the shape she’s in.

It’s hard to see her this way. The little nutrition she gets comes through that Southern elixir: sweet ice tea. Yet, most meager sips merit a cough. For some reason, her pain has lessened, necessitating fewer doses of powerful narcs like Roxicet administered through her peg tube. What hair survived the radiation and chemo is white, close-cropped and nothing like her style pre-cancer. Clothes don’t fit her either. Buying some pajama bottoms for her today, I opted for the XS and think that those should work.

Regardless, the person who now appears nothing like the lady filling my memories is still my mom, a buoyant beautiful soul. That remains.

I think that cancer nearing its run is a bit of a blessing, insofar as you see the end coming. So you can prepare for it. It’s not unlike standing chest-deep in the ocean. Your feet are planted in the sand, the current swirling around you–but you can see the wave coming, so you can prepare. You make what adjustments you can and receive the wave.

Despite how well you’ve prepared, it will move you. So I think I’m ready for that. In the meantime, I have to keep my eyes forward, head down, and do what needs doing.

The conversation this morning ran the gamut, but — as it’s wont to do — wove together nicely: history, writing, Japan, vacation, finding direction. It was all there.

I was talking with a friend about writing and how research plays into good writing. In that vein, she shared that she had earned her degree in history. She enjoys writing, too, and I remarked that her interest in history would inform her writing. I left out the fact that I had somehow gotten into an advanced placement American History class in high school and somehow managed to score a 1 on a scale of 5 on the final exam.

Why did they go left? Why did they go right? And most importantly, which fork leads to the cookies?

We talked further about history’s importance in why we do what we do — our traditions, our actions, our beliefs. From our mutual understanding of and experience in the Japanese culture, we recounted how their understanding the history behind tradition creates a connection to the past.

Further, and applicable to our own culture, knowing why we carry forward certain traditions makes the tradition richer. It teaches us why we do what we do. If we don’t know why, we might do things in form only. And that’s never good.

When we know the why behind something, it can inform our decisions today, help us choose one thing over another. So, despite what Sting might say, history can teach us something.

And for this, thanks.

I don’t believe in coincidences.  And that makes life a bit more challenging.

Why’s that?  Well, I believe there’s reason behind everything, so I can’t just dismiss these experiences as chance.  They prompt me to ask myself, “Self, why?”  I tend to end up with a lesson learned more often that a phenomenon explained.

One such experience happened as I looked out from the ninth floor of the Ernst & Young building.  It was a rainy day as I recall.  The floor-to-ceiling window framed much of western Atlanta.  Looking out, I saw visitors entering The World of Coke, and I could make out Coke headquarters to my right.  Further still, the lights above Bobby Dodd Stadium at Georgia Tech loomed unillumined above Grant Field.  The 75/85 confluence moved briskly, albeit almost out of sight, past Allen Plaza.  Atlanta, despite the somber weather, remained active.

And then I looked down.

That’s when I saw the Atlanta Union Mission.  Between the Mission and my building — both physically and metaphorically — was a vacant lot.  Just a few bare trees, discarded boxes, and a small blue tarp scattered across the brown space.   And then the tarp, in the corner of the lot, moved.

It wasn’t blown by wind; there was a man using it for shelter from October rain and wind.  I didn’t actually see the man emerge from his make-shift shelter, but I could tell from the shape and size that it was a person, despite the lack of continued movement.

Standing there, looking down, I realized that I was in the same room in which I had interviewed for my current job.

I saw the differences and the similarities between him and me, and then marveled at the timing of that moment.  Why, in its usual unassuming tone sauntered up behind and presented itself. 

Kansha ~ gratitude

I thought about how fortunate I am that I have what I have — health, family, occupation — and the answer to this coincidence is “give thanks.”  And there’s really so many reasons to do so.

In related news, an old friend started a blog, choosing to focus on gratitude.  What a very fine place to start.

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