Monday, January 4, 2010

Inspiration found in love, death, and disease

I have been hearing stories all week long about loved ones staying by their beloved's bedside during the most medically trying times. What they all share in common is one firm belief that I have come to: The Universe provides us with exactly what we need at just the right time, and it’s up to us to notice and appreciate it.

I just got off the phone with my cousin. Her husband died on New Year’s Eve after suffering for three years from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy . I have absolutely no idea what this means, but I was told that his mind was fully functioning until the very end. His body though progressively deteriorated until he died of pneumonia.

My cousin discussed his actual death with me during that conversation. She informed me that he died exactly the way he wanted to die, at home, surrounded by family. He didn’t suffer. Her voice sounded incredibly serene as she said, “It was actually quite peaceful. I turned to put something on the shelf. When I turned around, he lay there still, and I knew he was gone.” The funeral was short, sweet, and to the point, exactly as he wanted it to be.

I couldn’t help but be moved by the story. Her calmness and serenity was infectious. After three years of hard labor, as she called it “days of work and work”, taking care of her dying husband, my cousin saw the humor, the light, the joy in the situation. Even on his death bed, he received what he had asked for, and she noticed and appreciated it. Isn’t that beautiful?

You may be saying: “Ophir, her husband died. How is the Universe providing exactly what he needed?” My answer: Death is inevitable. We don’t have much choice in the matter. But this man knew exactly what he needed, how he wanted to die, and the Universe provided.

The stories continue. Some of you shared stories with me after last week’s blog entry “The secret to finding true love” of loved ones staying by your side.

One story that really struck me was of a woman with diabetes who was dating a man for six months when she went into the hospital for a kidney transplant. Her sister donated the kidney, which is already moving in and of itself. And this man, who she barely knew, stayed by her side the entire time, through it all. She is incredibly grateful to have met such a wonderful partner to share her life with. She didn’t take it for granted. She consciously took charge of her health, received a donated kidney, took notice of the man’s support and her sister’s care, and lives in appreciation to this day.

I heard more kidney stories during the week, and in the midst of hearing them, I couldn’t help but take notice that these stories had become apparent to me all week for a reason; for me that means writing about them.

I am always amazed by people who stay by their beloved’s bedside during the most trying times. I naturally began to wonder: What moves a person to donate a kidney, stay by a person’s bedside as they lay dying, risk their own lives to save someone else’s?

I can’t answer that. I’m sure each situation is unique. Overall though, I assume it’s out of love, choosing to save a life and give that person more time to be on this Earth, together with you. My mind strayed though, and my intuition took me on a different route. I noticed that in each situation the Universe was providing exactly what the person needed, and they were incredibly grateful, at peace, and serene.

I have never been alone when I’m really sick, even when I was single and living alone. Someone or some presence has always been there to help take care of me, whether a parent, a nurse, a doctor, a friend, a relative, or a loved one.

I remember a time when I was actually physically alone and had incredibly low blood sugar . I was on my way home from a photography class when I lived in Washington, DC. It was January, and night had already fallen. All of the stores and offices were closed, and DC was deserted, as it typically is at the stroke of 5 o’clock. (Or at least, that’s how it was when I lived there.)

I could barely move, let alone problem-solve. I tried walking to a bus stop. The area was deserted, and I didn't know long it would take for a bus to arrive. I didn’t have the energy to walk, and so I decided to crawl to a pay phone. I saw one three very long blocks away, too far away. So, I decided to stop for a minute, gather my strength, and sit on a bench at the bus stop. I sat for a few minutes trying to find some energy when I heard a man’s voice say, “You better get home, sweetheart, it’s getting late.” I looked up and saw a man sitting in the driver’s side of a taxi cab. He had rolled down the window to stop and talk to me. I climbed in the back seat and told him where to go.

I barely walked out of the cab to my apartment elevator, fumbled with my keys at the entrance, and crawled to the kitchen to get some orange juice. Last I remember, I brought the glass with me to my bed side and fell asleep. I heard my roommate when she came home. It woke me up. I checked my sugar, and it was back to normal. I don’t know how much time had passed. But I made it.

I almost died that day, at night, all alone, and yet, I made it. I struggled to get home, crawled on the sidewalks of DC, and yet I did it. I don’t know how I had the energy to carry the orange juice to my bed. But I did it. Call it adrenaline. Okay, probably. Call it coincidence that a benevolent taxi driver just so happened to take the most deserted route in DC on a cold, winter’s night. Maybe or maybe not. But a part of me truly believes that the Universe provided me with exactly what I needed to get home that night. Adrenaline, taxi driver, orange juice, and even my roommate coming home later than me. It was what I needed at the moment to survive, and since then, it has provided me with a lesson to learn from and share.

I am grateful for the experience. It has taught me many lessons from carrying glucose tablets with me wherever I go, to checking my sugars regularly, and to being thankful for how things seem to work out for the best.

No matter what the circumstance - from the very serious like a kidney transplant or sugar for a diabetic and to the mundane (I’ll let you decide what falls under that category) – I have begun to find that the Universe provides us with exactly what we need to achieve our purpose on this Earth at any specific moment in time. This viewpoint requires awareness and a lot of trust. And once I became aware, and developed trust, I became grateful, and ever since, I have found that everything I have ever needed has been there, just when I needed it.

I read what I found to be a brilliant, life-changing article on a related topic by Martha Beck in Oprah magazine which I must recommend that you read as well. The article is entitled: “When and How to Say ‘Enough!’” in which she explains, “There are two ways of going through life: Gather everything in sight, just in case you need it. Or, trust that you'll find exactly what you need, just in time. Guess which one lets you really stop and smell the roses?” Click here to read.

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