Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Finding the Courage to Embrace This Moment

I am paralyzed in fear.  We are living at the poverty level this month.  I don't want to drive the car anywhere.  I don't want to spend any money.  I don't want to look people in the eye and know that I am so vulnerable, so wrong about every decision we have made.  The shame is thick, and it covers me with a gooey, slimy film.  I can't get it off.  I can't breathe.  I am so overwhelmed.

Let's go for a walk, I think.  After battling my son for over 30 minutes, waiting, talking him into getting his diaper changed, then his clothes and shoes on.  I am more exhausted than before.  Fix his snack and drink, grab a toy for entertainment, and we are out the door.  Oops, almost forgot, my phone.  There, now we are ready.

It's warm, and I feel the sun beat down on my exposed shoulders and neck, wishing I had put some sunscreen on.  Oh well, we are out the door, and it will likely only be a short walk.

As I begin to feel the freedom of one foot moving in front of the other, the start of a breath entering my tense body muscles, I come to the truth.  The truth is, I am angry.  I am ready to rage.  I am insanely furious.  I want to scream at the top of my lungs, well, louder even.  My blood is boiling and I am full of hate.

Who is my target you ask?


I think God shouldn't let people suffer.  I think God should have answered my prayers. Why is there so much sadness in the world right now?  Why can't anyone get a little break?  Just one thing go right, somewhere!  All of this, all of life, is supposed to be easy.  Why is God intentionally hurting us?

I am lost deep in this thought when my phone rings.  I see who is calling and my heart stops.

"Hello."  I say.  There is silence on the other line.  A breath, and then, "Aubrey, she's gone."

The flood of tears immediately fills my eyes, my body is weak, I am choking on the pain.  My feet, paralyzed.  My fingers grip the stroller handles.

"No!  Really?  No!"

The tears run over the banks of my eyelids, stream down my cheeks, and my sadness is uncontrollable.  I am in disbelief.  Even though we knew this was coming, even though we went for our last visit to see her, even though she had come to full acceptance that it was simply her time to go, I just thought, wished, hoped she would get better.

The rush of anxiety hits me.  How am I going to tell my husband?  His sadness will be much deeper than mine.  It's his sister.  She is just 40.  She has just died.

On our visit to see her, it was evident her body was struggling.  Waft.  Thin.  Grey.  Nothing like the healthy her.  You try and prepare yourself for it, but it is still difficult, seeing someone suffer, seeing their bodies resist.

It was a beautiful day.  There was a cool breeze.  The barbecue was going.  Laughter in each room.  Joy.  Sadness.  A covert stillness that only the anticipation of death can give.  We all know why we are here, we all know what's happening, and yet, we are all full of life.

It's because of her.

She's come to terms with it.  She's accepted her life path.  Saying, "Well, God knows me well enough that He knows I would want to have all the details organized and done...even for my funeral...that's a great gift.  If I had it my way, it won't be for another 20 years, but we will just have to see."  She talks with us about her fears, our fears.  She's present and available, and she validates the experience for everyone.  She's filled with gratitude, so much so, that you can see her spirit shining out of her sunken eyes.  So much so, that you can feel the divine presence of her soul.  So much so, that you can know, deep, deep down, that no matter what happens, everything will be alright.

We leave the next day, thankful for our time, thankful for her presence, for her love, and her body's willingness to give us this day.  Her relief was evident, she got to say goodbye to her brother, she got to hug her godson one more time, and she was alive, breathing, happy.

The funeral was set, and we made our trip to be with my husband's grieving family.  Her family...her three children and her husband.  She has everything planned and it is beautiful.  Moving through the sadness, the stillness, the silence, is her.  Her "I love Lucy" collection.  Her warm, welcoming personality.  It's still here, it's still in her house her husband built for her, for their family.  The vitality, that's still in her children.  The love, that's still evident in her home, her husband.  It is clear, by the volume of people coming by the house with food, with sadness, with support, that my sister-in-law's impact in people's lives was often at the deepest soul level.  

For the days before her funeral, I kept hearing this reminder to keep the address to the cemetery with me.  Turns out, the battery in my mother-in-law's car went out, and the police escort had to leave without us.  While driving aimlessly until the navigation kicked in with the address I'd been holding on to, we came to a stop light.  There, on the corner, was a big church.  The  church marquee said, "You cannot control what happens in your life, just know that God is with you, in this moment."  My husband and I looked at each other, I burst into tears.  The cemetery was right around the corner and we found our way.

I had intended on calling her when I got home from my walk that day.  Intended on asking her, how, when she was faced with such an ominous thing as her own death, she had the courage to move on, to live, to laugh, to even scold her children to clean their rooms.  How could she still love God for what was happening to her?  How could she know she was safe?

As I traveled through my grief over the last year since her death, I have come to the realization, that she taught me by example.  She always stayed present in her life, her spirit soared in the midst of her fears, her worries, her sadness, her happiness and her joy.  She found the courage to embrace the moment.

My feelings of abandonment from God, my wanting things to happen on my timeline, my resistance to letting go of control, my expectations that things go a certain way, well, my way...all of the animosity I had toward the sense of divine grace, trust in the universe, a trust in God, have all diminished significantly by simply living and embracing this moment.

We don't know how long we have.  We don't know that things will go our way.  We can't control what might or might not happen.  All we can do, is simply know, that God is with us, here in this moment...that we are safe, loved, and our souls have limitless potential.

Thank you, Adriana.  I miss you so.      

My son and his Nina.


  1. Tears rolling over the banks of my eyes. I'm very sorry for your loss and know that Nina is smiling in Heaven <3

  2. Thank you, Catherine. She is dearly missed, but her love and courage can continue to inspire so many. I am very grateful for my time with her, and for my ability to share her blessings with you now. :)