How to Live and Die

I visited friends in the hospital yesterday. He had severe angina a few days prior and had a few stents put in his heart as a result. They were expecting him to be released later in the day.

As I visited, I noticed that he was tired, yet his cantankerous humor was on full display. She was fully supportive and present, her love for him very evident.

We enjoyed each others’ company for a time. I excused myself when the nurses came to tend to him. She offered to accompany me to the elevator.

With a few minutes alone, I checked in on how she was doing. Tears welled in her eyes. He only had twenty percent heart function before this event. The results were not back from all of the tests.

They have been married for 56 years. His first cardiac event was sixteen years before. She expressed her hope that they would get another sixteen years out of the new stents.

Moments like these bring back the fear of the searing pain of loss that has seemed inherent to loving.

My father passed away when I was twelve years old. Then the parrot my father gifted me died. Not long after, my only living grandfather died. It seemed to me that everything I loved died.

I convinced myself that they died because I loved them. It was a coping mechanism, a way of gaining control over loving and losing. Fearing more loss, I refused to give myself in love.

Of course, I wasn’t consciously aware of this for many years.

I worked through it in counseling, but times like yesterday reveal the work as incomplete.

I talked about my day with The Sweetheart over supper. He is a wise, gentle, compassionate soul.

I told him that I have been afraid to fully invest myself in loving because the pain of loss is so severe.

He offered his own perspective, “I feel it is better to get to the end, knowing I loved fully and was fully loved, than to get to the end without that experience.”

With those words, a piece of my heart fell back into place. Healing can be that easy.

Yes, I would much rather come to the end of my life, or my love’s life if he must go first, knowing we were fully invested, fully present, fully loved, and completely dedicated.

This is the way to live.

This is the way to die.

Open, loving, present evermore.

How do you want to live, to love, and to pass from this life?

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