One of the most well renowned wedding vows… “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish and to obey till death do us part.”
Well, just because I can’t help myself and I need to have this noted…. You really lose me at obey here, we aren’t here to obey one another, we are here to respect and to value one another as far I’m concerned. I am not one for the contract of marriage at the best of times and the vows don’t hold many “selling points” to steer me otherwise either……. But this is not the topic at hand, so I’ll save that rant for another day.
The promise we make to our “plus one” … till death do us part. Should it stop there? Or should that be a conscious promise we make to all that we love? I have come to pay a huge amount of attention to this question the past week and it all started with a message. I received a text from the daughter of a wonderful lady I know, letting me know that her mum was dying and where she would be till that time if I wanted to see her as she would love to see me. This I’m sure was her wish with many, to see people she valued one last time… to hold them and to say her goodbyes. It was an instant sadness and shock, but it was also such an honor as I had not seen her in close to two years?
I met Maree through work. I managed Embrace at the time and she was a customer, a customer that became so much more. From a few tumbles and a chat one day to exchanging cuddles and literally using the space as a place to catch up and see one another fleetingly each week. Her face would light up as she strolled in with a trolley in tow…” Hello my girl…. where’s my hug” and hug she would with all she had. It was never a long visit, perhaps 5 minutes or less at a time, but the joy in that time, the sincerity in that time and the time in general that she made to come in, to check in and to care was a beautiful rarity.
I went to the hospital to see her, and I am so glad I did. Surrounded by family and others who treasured her, Maree was in a bubble of love and care. She was clearly near her end but was still able to not only hug you tightly and express her joy to see your face, but I was in awe of her ability to crack a joke, to be cheeky to the handsome nurse who checked in on her, to make fun of her own forgetfulness from moment to moment and her ability to reassure everyone around her that all was ok. It was hard to leave her that day, I can only imagine how those closest to her were feeling. This woman was in life’s most hopeless of states and yet she pressed those around her to be happy and hopeful. What a remarkable space to be a part of…….. I will never forget that visit and I will never forget this wonderful woman. Maree took her last breath the next day.
“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will” Chuck Palahniuk.
Death is not what should bring us together, it’s not what should prompt us to visit a person and it’s not what should clear our minds or remind us of what’s important. Sadly, however this is generally the case, and it was no different for me with Maree. We have diverse views on what happens to a soul after we die but no matter your belief on the topic, people matter most when they are living. The time to seize the visits, the talks, the kindness and care, the time and the love is when we are alive, when we can laugh together, share stories and lessons, hug and be hugged, show value and feel valued. That’s when it matters, when there is no reason for making effort other than that person is one of your persons…someone you love and appreciate who warrants your time. Do I wish I had seen Maree under different circumstances in the two years before…yes, yes, I truly do. Now. And now is not good enough, now that ship has sailed and won’t be back. You can do what I did and tell yourself over that long period of time such things as...” Life gets so busy”, “I had no time”, “I’m swamped with work”, “life’s crazy with the kids”….. but the truth is that this is complete bullshit. How do I know? Because when I was told time was of the essence and Maree didn’t have long, I was there within days for a lengthy visit. Could I not have found that time when she was well enough to laugh with me and meet me for a coffee and a cuddle? Apparently not, and yet I was able to pluck availability out of “thin air” when tragedy hit. But what if we were to grasp the reality that time is always of the essence and that we don’t know from one moment to the next what life will bring to us or take from us. What if we placed visits or a phone call or even a thoughtful text to those significant to us on our to do list along with all the “important stuff”? What if we blocked out time to show we care when the chips are up, not just because the chips are down? What if we spent more time celebrating life with these amazing human beings rather then making time to race to the finish line to farewell them and mourn?? What if??
… “I take all of my tribe to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, laugh with and to value, and I will not wait till death do us part” …
“It doesn’t matter when we start.
It doesn’t matter where we start.
All that matters is that we start.”
Let’s start today