February 20, 2022
Good morning and happy Sunday my friends. February hasn’t been the month I expected. I was thinking it would be a fun and fabulous time. I hoped life would improve, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case. I know changes in life are inevitable. The events that occurred weren’t expected, but then why would anyone be thinking about death. My Mom was diagnosed with Dementia / Alzheimer’s over six years ago. She has been confined to a memory care facility for over five years. I know and understand the progression of this debilitating disease. The end result is sad and final. I’ve done my best to prepare myself for the last stage of this journey, but how can you actually prepare yourself for the loss of a parent or loved one? It’s an odd dichotomy. Even in my sorrow, I’m able to find some joy and happiness in the ending of her journey. During the span of my career, and life, on this planet, I’ve witnessed many incredible feats of life and the tragedy in death. I’ve seen a baby’s first breath, as it enters the world (including my own daughter being born). I’ve also seen the last breath, as a person departs this life and moves on to another realm. The life and death experiences I’ve witnessed have been peaceful for some and brutally painful for others. The horrific ends to life are the most traumatic to understand or process. I continue to place my trust in the plan of God and the universe. This is where I find my solace and comfort. Maybe it’s time we take a closer look at life and death; to better understand it and not fear it, before it closes in or surprises us.
No one wants to die, as life is a precious commodity. I knew this day would come for my Mom; as it will for us all. I didn’t know how or when, but I knew it would come for her. Death is an inevitability we all will face. Some fear death, others welcome it and I’ve grown to understand it as our human outcome. It’s never easy or simple, and always seems to come when least expected or wanted. To put it mildly, death sucks! I’ve witnessed death in many forms. I experienced the brutality that occurs with murders. These horrific, torturous and criminal acts are tragic. I’ve felt the sadness that accompanies suicides. These victims see it as a solution to end their internal pain or suffering. These are truly heartbreaking incidents. The grief that accompanies sudden death and loss of loved ones is the absolute worst. The harsh reality; death creates sorrow for the living and represents a finality of life on earth. If you aren’t prepared for death, it will knock you down and keep kicking you until you relinquish yourself to the pain. No matter when death knocks at your door, we can never be fully prepared or ready to deal with its consequences. My advice is simple. Face your fears now, so when the time comes, you’ll have a plan and the ability to navigate it when it arrives. I can’t promise it won’t stop the pain, because it won’t. What it will do is prepare you for the sadness and help you to get up a little quicker from the initial blow. They say, “Time heals all wounds.” I’ve found it takes a lot of time to recover from the grief and sorrow associated with loss. When you hit the bottom by being crushed by life, you have the ability to rise stronger and more vulnerable to the world.
Seeing trauma and death, in so many incidents over the years, desensitized my emotions and feelings. It blocked me from sharing my passions and love with those closest to me. It closed my heart and locked my spirit tightly behind my Kevlar body armor. It prevented me from experiencing the simple joys of living life. Since I was a young kid, I’ve had a difficult time just being me. I sought the love from others, I thought I needed to exist in a happy life. When I didn’t receive the gratification my soul thought it required, I just tried harder. It wasn’t until much later in my adult life that I realized what others thought or did had nothing to do with me or who I was. I simply needed to love myself and produce my own happiness to live a wonderful life. My compassion and gratitude developed by experiencing the hardships life brings along our path. My career provided an accelerated version of development. I’ve been touched by death and looked deep into its darkness. I was fortunate and grateful to be able to spend the last days of life with both my parents. Their last week of life was completely different. My Dad was lucid and active, while my Mom slept in peaceful slumber. They both passed on to the next life peacefully. It wasn’t easy to let go of their bodies, but I remain tightly connected to their spirits, until we meet again.
After my parents passed away, I realized how vastly different they lived the last five+ years of life. My Dad was happy and full of life every day. He was excited for each new day and enjoyed every moment of life. He knew his time on earth was limited, so he didn’t hesitate to take full advantage of its pleasure. He shared his heart, soul and love with me, his family and friends. Dad told me to live and be happy, saying, “Whatever you’re doing, just go do it. Enjoy yourself.” He waged a five-year battle against an unseen enemy, in the form of a blood disorder. There was no cure, as it morphed into Leukemia, eventually whittling away at his body until he could fight no longer. Every day he would tell me, “Michael, I can beat this. I know I can.” I accompanied him to many doctor appointments, where he’d tell the doctor the same thing he told me. The doctor would say, “John, keep fighting.” Dad was a great fighter and he fought a long hard battle. He never gave up hope or gave in to the pain. My Mom wasn’t that fortunate. Conversely, she lived her last five years, by merely existing. The disease took her through changes and various stages unknowingly; while robbing her of her memory. It transformed her mind and body without her permission or control. She didn’t have the ability to understand, fight or defend herself from the inevitable. After my Dad passed, it was easy to see her mind and memory were beginning to fail. The brutal assault and effects of this disease were rapid and crushing. She was confined to an Alzheimer’s memory care facility for over five years. The disease quickly seized control of her mind and ravaged it. She was reduced to living in a functioning body. As her memory failed, so followed other bodily functions. This sad existence wasn’t living! This debilitating state has only one outcome; death. When death arrived, it took its time to linger; as it sucked the remaining life from her body. She went to sleep, remaining in a state of slumber, as her body and organs slowly ceased to function. It’s a sad process to witness, especially when it’s your mother. I said my “goodbyes” while I shared my thoughts and love. I don’t find joy in death, but I do find comfort in knowing my Mom is at peace, without pain.
Every day of life brings us a step closer to death. We know change is inevitable. Life can change in an instant. I’m grateful for each new sunrise and the opportunities it brings. Enjoy, cherish and live a life full of happiness and love. Don’t dwell on the past or worry about what the future may bring. Work daily to dispel the fears and anxieties of life. Be kind, humble, respectful and grateful every day. Seek your passions and live your dreams. Instead acquiring more things; share experiences, adventures and make memories that will last a lifetime. Share time with your family, friends and especially with the people you love. Never hesitate to tell them how you feel; or tell them you love them every day. Life is short and our time on this planet is limited. Don’t waste a moment on foolishness, stubbornness or egotistical endeavors. Help others along the way, because you never know when you may need help on your journey. In the end, a life lived in happiness and love is what matters the most. It’s never too late to dream new dreams, seek new adventures or change your life. I’m a prime example of what positive change can do to improve life. Now is the time to live life in the present; full of passion and love. Follow your dreams. They know the way.
Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more! The puzzle of life is always changing. Change can lead to amazing opportunities. Together let’s be healthy and strong mentally, physically and spiritually!
Thanks for your love and support! Embrace Life! Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!