Today is my birthday and the perfect day for me to honor, celebrate, and revere life. This past week has been one of the most intense weeks I have ever known, prompting me to reflect a great deal on life and the world around me.
All within a matter of hours, my grandpa had a significant heart attack; and my father-in-law went into emergency surgery as a follow-up to heart bypass surgery—landing him directly into the intensive care unit (ICU).
The next few days were incredibly intense and flanked with uncertainty—spending precious time at the two hospitals, talking through options with family members, jumping at each phone call, barely sleeping, dissolving into tears at the drop of a hat, and on and on.
I immediately cancelled all meetings and lunches on my calendar. While these were all scheduled with people I was excited to see, the need for focus was so strong that I didn’t even give it a second thought. I knew that I needed to clear the space—both literally and figuratively—to be ‘here’ for my grandfather, my father-in-law, my family…and myself.
In my coaching, I work with my clients on stripping away the “extras” in life; the things that distract them from being 100% on-purpose. And I now experienced the most perfect example of this in my own life. Canceling everything I had on my plate allowed me to be laser-focused, intentional, and unequivocally present to the monumental events right in front of me.
The week was full of heaviness, sadness, and uncertainty. And at the same time, it was also full of joy, love, and gratitude. Special times during the week included poignant moments I will never forget:
–Doing crossword puzzles with my grandma, playing ping pong, and sharing oatmeal cookies together in her quiet house as she waited and waited for her sweetheart to recover and come home to be with her.
–Sitting with my mother-in-law in the waiting room while her guy was in surgery—as we both patiently awaited her hospital pager to buzz, signaling it was time to confer with the surgeon.
–Giving my fragile grandpa, a once strong World War II Navy Officer in the Okinawa Campaign, a gentle shoulder massage over his hospital gown as he held my grandma’s hand.
–Standing at my father-in-law’s bedside and breathing in-and-out to match the rhythm of his ventilator; squeezing his hand and telling him how grateful I was to be a part of his family.
–Becoming acutely aware of my own heartbeat one morning in bed, as I put my hand on my chest to feel the rhythm of my healthy, smooth heartbeat…prompting me to softly whisper: “Thank you.”
–Being showered with phone calls, emails, notes, and hugs…full of love, hope, compassion, and prayer.
The power of now
This past week, I learned the power of being where you are—right here, right now—and letting nothing else enter your space. From this place, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s real. It is to be cherished.
My grandpa is home now with his true love, resting and recuperating and doing well. Whew!
My father-in-law continues to be in critical condition in the ICU, but stable.
I feel very peaceful about both situations, knowing and trusting that there is a bigger plan for all of us. Part of following your joy is also about being ‘real’ and allowing yourself to experience the depth of all levels of life…and feeling every part of it.
For now, there are two polished stones on the center of our kitchen table. These stones were available in one of the hospital chapels for visitors to take after offering up a prayer. So my prayer was one of extreme gratitude for these two special guys, and that they both experience deep peace in their journeys. Amen.
On my birthday today, I’d like to make a toast to…life.