“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” –Mary Oliver
It is a stunning winter day here in Marin. The weather is mild, the sky a brilliant blue, and the birds are twittering away. I am sitting on my deck letting the warmth seep into my bones. I am not grasping, reaching or wanting. I am simply being. Today I am grateful for the gift of life. A gift no matter my circumstances: whether healthy or sick, contented or sad, in the company of those I love or on my own.
A friend passed away yesterday. We had never actually met, but she was a friend nonetheless. She was part of a Facebook group I am in. A group of strong, spirited, fiery and loving women who share outfit inspiration and so much more. The “style” element is really just a prelude to the deeper baring of souls that occurs. I have been a member for over a year, and during that time the women in the group have shared personal triumphs and challenges, moments of pride and of insecurity, and even private confidences they wouldn’t have been comfortable sharing anywhere else. Somehow, in the general anonymity of the internet, we have created a space of absolute acceptance and trust. It is honest. It is real. It is raw. It is a sacred space; one that I am fortunate to inhabit. The group knows about my illness. I have shared stories of vulnerability and frustration with my medical care. I have never felt closer to a group of women whom I haven’t met in person.
Barbara was an active member of our group. She was fun and sassy, positive in the midst of her pain, a supportive friend to all of us. She died of complications from an aortic valve procedure. The day before her surgery she posted a note to our group asking for prayers for a good outcome. We all expected her to sail through with flying colors. None of us were prepared for the news that came. We are shocked, gutted and our hearts are breaking for her family members who now have to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
Her passing is a poignant reminder that time is an illusion. Once again I come face to face with the reality that all I truly have is this very moment. So what matters right now? Is it what I do or who I am? I’ve spent (wasted?) a fair amount of time over the past several years worrying that I’m not accomplishing enough with my life. That my time spent as a full-time mom followed by several half-bedridden years don’t really amount to much. Today I ask myself: What is “much”? Is it money made, projects finished, triathlons run, a flourishing career, capable children? Or is “much” simply Being? Noticing? Loving? Receiving? I think I prefer this interpretation.
So in honor of my friend and the beautiful fleetingness of life I am going to practice letting my existence amount to much. I am going to focus more on being and less on doing. More on loving and less on comparing. More on noticing and less on disregarding. More on much. Rest in peace, Barbara.