From Hugh Prather’s Notes to Myself:
“She may die before morning. But I have been with her for four years. There’s no way I could be cheated if I didn’t have her for another day. I didn’t deserve her for one minute, God knows.
And I may die before morning.
What I must do now is accept the justice of death and the injustice of more “life.” I have had a good life – longer than many, better than most. I have had thirty-two years. I couldn’t justify another day. I did not create myself, it is a gift. I am me, that is the miracle. I had no right to remain a single hour. Some remain a single minute. And yet I have had thirty-two years.
But it’s morning. Within my hands is another day. Another day to listen and love and walk and glory. I am here for another day.
I think of those who aren’t.”
This passage in Notes to Myself leaves a profound effect on me. How often do I believe my loved ones and myself are entitled to a set number of years? That each of us should live to 100 and die in our sleep? Those are often my assumptions; yet, life has a way of being vastly unpredictable and failing to meet my expectations. My father got far fewer years that I expected, than I hoped for for him. The past year I have processed the emotions of shock, anger, pain, and jealousy. This is what it means to be human and experience loss. The depth of love matches the depth of grief. Until he was sick, I took for granted his health and the health of all my loved ones and myself. Before my world was so changed, I am sure my unconscious thinking was, “well, this is the way it’s supposed to be…” Loss and grief have a way of turning these thoughts on their head.
The truth is life and death are inextricably linked. On this Earth, our bodies are temporary. It’s a reality we quite understandably prefer not to consider. Yet, when death and loss meet us, there’s an opportunity to delve deeper into life. This is the feeling I get from Prather’s words. The finality of life provides an avenue to profound humility as well as an opportunity… an opportunity to think more carefully about how we spend our time. Death allows us to reflect on the sacredness of the time we’ve been given, to pause and see the beauty of trees, flowers, rain, and blue skies. And, if we are willing, an opportunity to hold one another more gently and lovingly as well.
Thank you for reading. Learn more about Lydia and her practice here.