After a long, painful decline in his health, my uncle died today. He suffered with dignity, but he suffered for so many years and this year was by far his worst. I was able to say goodbye to him yesterday, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have seen him one last time.
My uncle had a gift of sincerely caring—asking what was new, genuinely wondering what was going on in your life. Sitting and listening, nothing was more important to him at that moment than your every word. It seems such a rarity in our world today to have someone’s completely undivided attention.
Several thoughts have stayed with me over the past 24 hours…. I don’t know how to say goodbye to a loved one who is dying. I wasn’t sure if my uncle knew he was living out his last moments, and it felt wrong to say goodbye if he didn’t know. I was at a loss for words. I tend to see things clinically, focusing on the medical aspects, but this time was different: it was my family and I felt clueless. As I left, my uncle’s eyes opened and met mine, and he gave me a little smile. His smile told me I was important to him, and I think he understood.
Some things I have noticed on the day a loved one dies…. The sunset is more brilliant and personal, as if my uncle is communicating his peace. My spirituality feels more vibrant and personal. I feel God’s hand in my environment and life. I see the contrast of health, laughter, physical activity, playfulness, and peace versus darkness, pain, suffering, and loss of dignity.
Driving back from Denver I heard Tim McGraw’s song “Live Like You Were Dying.”
Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying…
Like tomorrow was a gift and you’ve got eternity
To think about what you would do with it…
In yoga, we practice staying present in our lives. On the day a loved one dies, this practice truly resonates.
Enjoy these last few weeks of summer. Do something a little bit outside your box. Be playful. Look at the sunset a few minutes longer. Call a relative or a friend and tell them how much they mean to you. Share a laugh. Most of all, give your whole attention to the person right in front of you. That’s where there’s meaning.
In light and love,
In memory of John :: December 8, 1935 ~ July 30, 2017