Telling The Truth

I just found out today that a friend of mine died. He was not in my immediate circle of close friends, but someone that I swam with on my team. He was someone that I saw just about everyday, sometimes more than my friends or family. He woke up with a headache a year and a half ago and found out that he had a brain tumor. He was a guy who was the epitome of heath; biking to and from our swimming workouts, always heading off to some bike race in some foreign country. I have to admit I had a bit of envy – he always looked like he had it all. Fancy house, fancy cars, always traveling to exotic places for vacations…but I found out how rich he truly was by the loving support of his family who was there with him through it all, and were by his side at the end.

Even though he was not someone I would call up and hang out with, the news of his passing hit me hard. We had emailed back and forth about getting together and taking a walk. For whatever reason our schedules never really clicked and we would just play tag on email without ever setting a specific time to get together. Why didn’t I just drop everything and spend time with him? Why did I let time slip by and not make that connection? Why? Why? Why?

And now he is gone and my heart is cracked open. From this place I can drop down and access the feelings that seem to be inaccessible when I am in that state of being busy, running around, spinning my wheels and unconscious. Was I scared to see someone I perceived as strong and invincible become weak and dependent? Was I going over old territory in my heart of reliving the memories of my parents and their passing?  Was his illness just too close to home for me since he was a swimmer and the same age as me? Was I just scared to face what I knew would eventually happen  to him?

In all my women’s retreats we start each session with an exercise where you put your hand over your heart, take a deep breath, and then drop into your heart and ask the question “How am I feeling right now?”  I ask the question three times and usually each answer drops you down a little deeper to the core of the real truth of how you are feeling. The first time through most people just answer with words like fine, okay, tired, feeling pretty good. But when we get to that third question, of how we are really feeling in the moment, the answers are usually much more truthful – words and phrases like lonely, afraid, vulnerable, shy, scared to step into what is next, powerful, aware, grateful etc. From that place of real depth and honesty the retreat participants start to bond as they begin to feel and experience that they are not alone.

As I sit here today with the news of my friend’s passing, and other transitions – a family member who just passed, as well as a wonderful author that I have worked with; a friend who is in the final days of her life – I ask myself how am I feeling…. really feeling. I am struck with the vulnerability of being a person who is on this planet for a set amount of time and how important love truly is. Giving it, receiving it, and allowing my heart to crack open to experience every wonderful, sad, messy, beautiful part of it. Even when it hurts, like right now. This feeling reminds me of my friend Rev. David Leonard, who lives in a state of a cracked-open heart every day. He allows himself to cry freely whenever he feels it. Just being in his presence gives me permission to experience the range of feelings from the gifts of love.

So am I writing this to have you send me an email about my losses? No. I am motivated to write this for the purely selfish reason of reminding myself about what is really important in my life. Making the time to connect, knowing what my true priorities are, and allowing my heart to crack open with love, sadness, joy and all the rest…..

I send my love and blessings to Mark Becker, Dr. Candace Pert, Marie Hoy, and grace and angels to Lois Johnson.

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