Just Show Up

Who Shows Up? and when? It is easy to show support during joyous times. It can be far more stressful –and sometimes uncomfortable–to be available in times of crisis, confusion, or death. There are some people who you expect to Show Up during those latter times; others shock you when they reach out. Those few especially make you glance outward from your grief, realizing that circle of people you hold close is wider than you think.

It’s been a month since my dad passed away. I am still amazed at who I have heard from—and who has remained invisible– the last difficult months. Every word and action has truly made an impact on me:  a short text or phone call, stacks of cards (some from people I didn’t even know were aware my dad was gone), delivering food for us, sending flowers, reaching out a hand or hug, giving a gift card for a meal, driving people to the airport, sharing some wine, a kind word, an impactful memory, traveling to see us.

There have been foggy days and sleepless nights, my brain running in the opposite direction from where my focus needs to be.   So those gestures can jolt me back to today, now.

It is okay to feel uncomfortable when acknowledging your sentiments to me. Stumble, if you need to. You may be articulating your feelings for the first time, while I have been addressing mine for many, many hours already. Whether you express yourself with grace, anger, grief, humor, surprise, tears, hope or couched in your own experiences of someone close to you dying, it means so much when people share.

So Just. Show. Up. I know I will be more conscious of Being There in the future, during those times of mourning. Sadly, I can relate.

C

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Lifeline

With an ill family member a plane ride away
that little rectangular tool
called the Cell Phone
so full of need
and escape
in a hand-held box
that I sometimes abhor,
(when others are hypnotized
and friends engaged in the screen
instead of today
and engaging conversation)
has become my lifeline.

I carry it on my person–
every step in the house,
during meetings,
while at the gym,
a brief escape with friends,
the ebony hour.
The buzzer is at the ready,
for a call
a text
an update
from afar.

It is a hope
an anchor
a wish
my reality.

So thankful I have it
to desperately grasp,
rather than the old-school landline,
to keep me truly tethered to my home,
while I wait
for the latest change
by voice or written word.

C

Embrace Everyday Moments

Life is not remembered
by one stupendous event
defined by horror or humor or elation.
Rather, it is
a compilation of moments lived daily,
sometimes highlighted by a singular chance occurrence.

Embrace each sunrise
with an open mind
a heart willing
to accept the mundane
as extraordinary
with stupendous times
sprinkled throughout.

Near the end,
those individual days and moments
of journeys local and far travelled,
meld together
into waves of memories.

It is your choice to have
a life lived every.single.day
or one that is waiting,
for something beyond reach,
the next that may not happen.

So avoid the temptation to
always looking forward
and appreciate the Now
on most days.
There are some we all suffer through,
but hopefully the color-filled, rainbow days
even the forgotten ones
surpass those filled with storm.

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by Cindy Cardinal Kennedy
completed 6/20/16
In honor of my dad, Richard Cardinal

Death Amongst Us

It’s been a hellish couple of months, with moments of joy sprinkled in to make it bearable.  Work is overwhelming,  chronic pain slowing me  down further, my horse was injured for several weeks, kids and parents’ health see-sawing, my good friend and trainer now moving to another barn, the kids have had highs and lows in school and friendships, as they make their way through teen-age-dom.

And we have lost an inordinate number of people in the last two months.  None directly related to me, but so close to my friend and neighbors–a sister, a best friend, two fathers, a 100-year old grandmother, a neighbor.  Most were ill, but one went to sleep and simply didn’t wake up. Plans changed, vacations scrapped, hospice called  in, then ordering of flowers, visitations, good-byes (and hellos, since we didn’t know some who died until their services).

I realize that death is a part of life, but it has walloped our neighborhood, our friends.  Our kids are so acutely aware of death right now, it’s amazing they remain unafraid, happy.  We talk to our friends, hold their hands, their hearts, listen to their stories, their heartache, their tears as they struggle to move onward.

I am waiting for the April rains to eventually sweep away the grey skies, the brown grass and awaken the tiny flowers, the birds, the deep breathes of calming air. Wash the sad times elsewhere, for awhile.  C