‘Transitions’

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‘Transitions’ became the first of many poems I continue to write regarding the transfer of the soul from this world. For me, it is not about religion. It is not about science. It is about faith in the Universe. It is about the nature of things. It’s about energy.

Much has been written about this topic. Energy does not disappear, but evolves into another form. I believe this to be true of all living creatures, including humans, animals, and plants. I believe it to be true of all elements that make up our world.

Birth and death and everything in between are natural progressions of life. It is so interesting how happy we are when a baby is born and how sad we are when a loved one dies. This is natural.

Though inevitable as life itself, death in our culture carries a certain habit of fear of the unknown for the dying and an enormous feeling of loss and abandonment for those left behind. It challenges us no matter that our religious beliefs or faith-based spirituality prepares us for all of it. This is a deep disconnect in our beliefs and psyche. Not all cultures are so disconnected.

When my own parents passed, I knew in my heart they had a long and (mostly) happy life. They were elderly. I knew their time was coming and mentally prepared myself. I also know my mother was afraid. I felt her fear in her last hug. She did not want to let me go. This was three weeks before she transitioned.

Grief takes on many forms and is as individual as each of us. There is no right way to grieve. I became extremely ill right after mom died and was bedridden for two days with a fever and cough that would not quit.

Their deaths still hit me like a fist in the stomach. It was my longing for them that brought me grief. They had been in my life forever. I missed them deeply.

Elephants and other creatures show grief and loss. This has been well documented. I watched tearfully as a young doe grieved for her sister I had just shot during hunting season many years ago. I can still hear her bleating when I think about it. I felt like a horrible person for having killed her. I haven’t picked up a weapon since.

What I have learned in life is that grief is a necessary process. It takes the time it takes. We cry, feel lost and alone, cry some more, and eventually move forward. This is key to healing, but being stuck in grief is no way to live our lives. Our loved ones would never want us to remember and honor them in this way, though some of us just cannot move past it. Our lives become crippled by death.

‘Transitions’ was written for a coworker a few years ago who lost someone. I believe that the spirit never dies. I believe energy always transforms into something else. Our universe is made of energy in flux, always moving and changing. We are no different from the world around us. We are part of the endless cosmos.

When the time comes, I hope I will welcome it, but I might fight death. I really don’t know until I’m in the moment. I don’t feel afraid to die, but that does not mean I want to die. I intend to cross the veil in my sleep approximately two to three decades from now. Peacefully. I fully expect a smooth transition.

When I die, I know I will see my loved ones again. I’ve had dreams and visions of our reunion. All family, friends, and pets will be the welcoming committee, with the pets out front. They are the unconditional lovers. It will be a coming home party of the grandest kind.

Death? Eh, it happens, just like birth. I didn’t fret about coming into this world and I’m not going to fret about exiting from it. I’m going to embrace the possibility of change, of transitioning into something new. A rebirth of spirit. It’s the only way I know how to live.

What about you?  I’d really like to read about your thoughts and insights about transitioning. Thanks for reading.

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Time

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Those of us who hold a special place for dogs in our hearts understand their unconditional love and devotion. Some of my best friends are dogs. They always have been and always will be.

If I could be so loving, if the world could be so loving, can you imagine what life could be like? Dogs do not lie. They tell you when they are happy and show you when they are upset. They don’t hide behind a facade. If they like you, you know it immediately. The opposite is also true.

Some time back I read an article about actor Katherine Heigl and her devotion to her adopted shelter dogs. She spoke of the love they shared and the joy they brought her.

It reminded me of how I saw my mother quickly deteriorate from a dreaded diagnosis: Dementia. Part of her brain died, most likely caused by a stroke. Her high blood pressure was a factor. Because of this brain issue, she could not stop her thoughts from coming through her mouth. She had no filters.

Some of this was difficult to endure. Unlike her prior self who was quite reserved in public, she once told her doctor he had beautiful eyes. A couple of times she swore like a sailor. Sometimes her words or actions became uncontrollable. Once in a while, she would again become lucid.

It was odd, because she knew what she was going to do before doing it and told us so. Once, she warned us that she was going to push the plates onto the floor. She did. Once she told me she was going to run over my foot with her walker. She did. She couldn’t help it.

We sisters cried and laughed, along with Mom. She knew something was wrong, but said often she was sorry but couldn’t help it. We knew. It was beyond anyone’s control.

We were losing our mother. She said she felt like she was going crazy. She couldn’t add numbers anymore. She became paranoid. I felt absolutely lost in how to help her. All we could do was take things as they came and not force compliance, while keeping her safe.

The more I read about the disease, the more I understood our job was to take care of her without upsetting her delicate situation. I became somewhat meditative when I cared for her by not taking anything personally and by becoming nonjudgmental.

I came to understand the loving devotion my mother had for her family and felt fortunate to be so well taken cared for as a child. She put her family first, ensuring we were healthily fed from the garden my dad grew and cleanly clothed and schooled, having time for play and adventure. We went on vacation every summer.

I owed her the same. Fortunately Mom could still function in many ways and remembered us fully. My sister was and still is involved with hospice and home health as a counselor, so brought in those services.

What I did not realize at first was how exhausted my sister became from being the major caregiver. I wondered what the benefit was in trying to make our mother comfortable while seeing my sister’s health decline. We ended up hiring around the clock care for Mom and Dad, later than we should have.

Now I see Mom’s fast decline and transition as a blessing, not only because of what I have read about and seen with Dementia and Alzheimer affected brains, but also because of the negative affect it had on my sister’s health. There must be a better solution.

As for the dogs I mentioned earlier, Ms. Heigl experienced extreme difficulty putting her dog down. He was suffering. Her veterinarian persuaded her to do it out of love for her animal, focusing on the dignity every living creature deserves. It was not an easy choice.

Time, is a simple, lighthearted poem with a contemplative message. I only hope that when it’s time for me, when my quality of life becomes outweighed by a lack of enjoyment and substance, someone who loves me will consider available choices. After all, I’m a lot like a dog, most likely a Golden Retriever.