With my friend lingering on the fine line between time and eternity, I find myself, as many others are doing, wondering how I might live my life with more meaning, more LIFE.

I have watched from the side lines the poignancy between the members of her heartbroken family….  Heads gently together, whispering words of encouragement and love, just between them, just as it should be…

Yesterday, I went to visit her a couple of times.  I noticed immediately how her eyes were shining bright and clear.  She radiated happiness and light.  She teased me later in the day and smiled broadly as her eyes twinkled…I left the room happy, feeling good that she seemed to be feeling good too.  When I returned later, we watched as the nurse lovingly fed her. While she hovered over her, the nurse asked her how she was doing.  My friend looked up and with light in her sparkling eyes, responded, “I’m happy!” Long will I remember the look in her eyes and the expression on her face as she made her declaration of peace and joy.

Tears fill my eyes, and my heart stretches in painful wonder when I think that the light of this amazing and talented woman will soon no longer illuminate all of our lives from this side of the veil.

Since my friend turned her last corner, I, as many others I know, have reexamined how I am living my life…

In breathless sorrow, I remember the day I sat on the side of my dying sister’s bed.  There was no hope of recovery.  My father couldn’t stand it any longer and I was left to guard his precious girl and hold her hand as she breathed her last…It was only a short two years later that I again found myself on the side of another bed, stroking my beloved mother’s hair as she slowly, but way too quickly, breathed her last breaths.  All of us were devastated!

Then, I experienced another “death” of sorts, many years later.  It came in the form of losing the rights to see my children. I had suffered through the deaths of my sister and my mother and the loss that presented me in my life; but nothing, absolutely nothing, could have prepared me for the devastating loss that came in the wake of that terrible decision.  My grief knew no depths!  My sorrow would not be assuaged! My loss would never be recovered and I would stumble for a very, very long time from the blow of that time in my life.  My pain stretched far and wide into the eternities as my heart and mind searched for meaning in the path that I was now on…

My heart died during those days.  Slowly, I would recover…but only from the shock…I carried my grief deep in my breast for years.  My soul searched for answers, but there were none.  Eventually, time required that I tuck my sorrow away and move on, but nothing could ameliorate the feelings of loss living in every fiber of my being.  My tenderest feelings remained locked away and carefully guarded. It took me decades to stop crying, worrying and wondering…The experience left me raw and bereft.  It was here, in this world of grief and sorrow, that I learned that these would be my experiences alone.  They would be hard for others to understand.  Not that others didn’t try or want to understand, but sorrow is distinctive to the individual; each experience has its own unique “fingerprint”…a personal encounter between you and the infinite…

My own experience brought deep reflection on the meaning of my life.  The depths of my distress reached deep into the fiber and make up of my core-being and yet, out to the expansive reaches of the heavens.

How could I still be here when I hurt so much?

Metaphorically, I found myself as an empty shell on the beach, still here, still beautiful, but empty as I lay there with the waves gently lapping at me; turning me over and moving me from place to place…sometimes I find myself bathing in the warmth of the sun, and others, tumbled down the beach …very similar to life.

God, His tender, watchful care warms me and yet does not shield me from life.  I must experience it all, the good and the bad; the consequences of my choices; the consequences of others’ choices…it all comes my way…and I slowly learn to face it, front and center.  He is mindful though to care for me and encourage me…How grateful I am to Him! He sustains me in miraculous and unseen ways.

Life comes at us all without apology.  Regardless of how hard it is, there are a few things I have learned along the way…

Never judge anyone for who they are because in the end, we are all only one thing: Children of God.  We are all connected…

Never judge yourself to be better or worse than anyone else, because in the end, you still die like all the rest of us.  It is not who you are or what you did, it is how you defined who you are and what you did by the way you lived your life.

Life is made up of moments in time.  It is like a bank account.  When you are born, you have a savings account of “moments” to spend.  How you spend each moment determines that moment’s value.  I discovered during the most painful moments of my life, that while things and people can be taken away, memories cannot.  Memories live in the heart, captured by how we spend our moments…Moments are like caterpillars…just inching along from time to time, being filled with whatever we choose as we move along…then somewhere along the line, those moments metamorphose into memories and yield a butterfly of infinite beauty reflecting the life we chose to live.

This is what I learned from my losses…

Life turns on a dime.  One minute you are sailing along and then, sometimes, like in the death of my mother or my sister, you only have a week to say, “I love you.” You suddenly realize that time is up and those things you wish you had said or done, are past…Your moments are spent and your memories, for good or ill, are all you have left.  Smells, sights, and sounds…all swirl around gently distilling recall to your mind and heart serving up joy of remembrance or bitterness and regret.

I learned that all of us have a choice.  Life doesn’t have to “sneak” up on us.  We can make each moment we “spend” out of our life’s “bank account” gain huge amounts of interest by remembering that there are no guarantees as to when our lives end or the life of someone you love is “up.”

Many of my life moments have been spent in prayerful regret and sorrow, but through it all, the one thing I have come away with is that love, with all its ups and downs, is all that counts…in the end. Thus it is that through my experiences I have learned not to let my husband walk out the door in the morning without one more kiss…one more “I love you,” one more lingering moment in his arms to tell him without words, how much I love and appreciate him.  I am learning to apply this to all the areas of my life, making sure that all my moments add up to a beautiful kaleidoscope of love in all the relationships woven into the fabric of my life.

I am so far from perfect, as I am sure some of you reading this are thinking.  Nevertheless, I am striving to overcome and change many of the moments in my life which have severely handicapped my perceptions.  It is my hope that those of you who have endured my weaknesses and faults as a person, friend and mother, will have the courage to forgive me and move forward with me to make the future moments we will have together, into something pristinely perfect and filling, glittering in all the glory of Love and sweetness.  This is my prayer…this is my hope…

This is what I have learned: that the value of life is infinitely more valuable than all the cars, fancy houses, designer clothes and everything the world says makes up “life.” Life is really about living from moment to moment, spending each of those moments with purpose, alert that it could all end anytime, anywhere.

There is no doubt that all of us will suffer from the devastating and breathless sorrow that ultimately shows up on each of our paths; but, when we have “spent” our life-moments richly, in appreciation with love for all those around us, good or ill, those breathless moments of sorrow will have a silver lining within our hearts, because we have loved and looking back, we know, in the end, love is all it is ever about.

‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all – (Lord Tennyson)