Last week on a flight to Denver where I was traveling to attend a memorial service for a friend’s husband, Paul, who died suddenly, I met a woman going to Peru. She was nervous as she hadn’t been out of the country since a child, and now she was going to stay for a month in Peru where her son was studying medicine. I was on my way to a ceremony honoring a doctor who had died after spending many years saving lives in an emergency room in Boulder, Colorado. She was on her way to an adventure. Which was fitting as Paul loved adventure. He skied, he biked, he hiked, he surfed, raised a family and he loved deeply which is the greatest risk of all. In fact, before he died he had planned in his retirement to drive with his wife to the tip of Argentina. It seemed fitting I met a woman who was on her way to South America.
Though we’d just met, and because tight airline seating fosters closeness, we talked about the importance of living life to the fullest. What we want, after all, lies on the other side of fear. After I arrived in Colorado, things got hectic and I forgot about the woman until she sent me the photo of the condo she was staying for a grand total of $300 per month. I posted it above. She said yes to life. I look forward to hearing about her Peruvian experiences to inspire me to say yes, too.
This is how the sky looked when doves were released into the air following Paul’s memorial service. (They were homing doves so they were trained to return lest you worry that that the beautiful white birds might be harmed.) The Rocky Mountains in the distance provided the backdrop as we all sang a song with repeated lyrics “fly away.” Next was food and dancing, drink, talking, laughing and, of course, tears. Paul will never get to be there to watch his recently born granddaughter grow up. We all flew in from different places, traveling many miles by plane or car, to be together for the purpose of honoring Paul who his son said lived, and died, with “no regrets and no grudges.” A life well lived.
Then it was over. Just like that. Life goes on. I think, though, that for those of the many who attended the memorial such a sudden loss creates revaluation of one’s own life. There is a deadline for each of us and it gets tighter as we get older. Not to be too much of a downer but, hey, this ain’t no dress rehearsal.
The weekend before the memorial service, I made a vision board as I do each year. I created it in a group setting and afterwards each woman talked about her vision board. (Guys never come to these things. I think that’s a shame.) I kept thinking about the people who have passed away, and what a precious privilege to be alive, to have the opportunity to cut and paste (and eat potato salad and cookies) with a group of women who all have dreams and goals they hope to achieve in 2018.
I won’t go into specifics, but when I look back on past year’s vision boards I am amazed that somehow my subconscious was able to predict future events. Just saying! Give it a try. It can’t hurt. Visions boards give one permission to think big and say yes to dreams. I chose HEALTH as my word of the year because health is our greatest wealth. Better even than that silver car I oh so badly want.
While I was in Colorado, I was asked to do some tea leaf readings. There I am pouring tea. Fooled you! This a picture that was in our room in Bruges, Belgium. I wished I could have slipped it into my suitcase! The darling goat, old -fashioned record player (the proper name escapes me) the women’s long dresses, and of course the spotted dog all made me wish I could jump into the old photo. But most of all the photo appealed to me because it symbolized the importance of connection. I like to think these women were all good friends, perhaps even sisters. (Maybe the guys were in the background somewhere having whiskey!)
Last week, though sad, was also for me filled with sweet and special moments reconnecting with friends from both my lifetimes in Chicago and Colorado. Paul was blessed with so many friends, and I realized how blessed I have been with friends, too. Here is me and Debbie Kraft, who I have known since we were both pom-pom girls in high school, and our friend Sandy at the memorial service. Paul was married to Debbie’s younger sister, Chris.
In the end all that matters is love. I think that was in a Beatles song. True but overdone…So how about a quote from the guru Ram Dass taken from a sacred Hindu Text:
Human existence begins with the belief that we are separate, then moves on to trying to find our way back to the One of which we are not just a part, but who, in fact, we are.
Or if that quote doesn’t resonate with you here’s another by Ram Dass:
When you are already in Detroit, you don’t have to take a bus to get there.
We have everything we need. Now go for it! Happy New Year!