Today is Tuesday, the day I usually go visit mom. My aunt comes to feed her lunch on Tuesdays and my sister came to town this week to visit as well. Today was Tuesday. But it wasn’t like other Tuesdays for some reason. Something happened for me today that I am not so sure I can explain. Something in me today saw things differently.
Mom was good today. She laughed at our jokes, listened to our conversation. And when I left her, I kissed her on the cheek as I always do and told her I love her. She responded. Not in words, but in sounds. I know she was saying she loves me too.
Mom had a roommate for a while in the beginning before she got her own room down the hall about a month ago. She is a very petite little bit of a thing who still can walk, zipping around on her walker that doubles as a seat when she feels like sitting down. Eleanor is the nicest little old lady I think I have met in a very long time. She just adores mom and always comes to check on her now that they are not living in the same room anymore. Today, she saw us all in her room feeding her lunch and popped in to say hi. She told us stories of her weekend with her family. Eleanor is lucky, she is able to leave the home for holidays and spend time with her children for a cookout at their house. She told us how great the weekend was and of her double manhattans that had her feeling fine. She had us laughing. She even had my mom laughing. We can tell my mom knows Eleanor’s sweet little voice. It was when she was turning to leave that I had a moment that has lingered with me all day. I don’t remember who said it, but someone asked her if it’s hard to come back there after spending time with her family. She said it was and that she has been there too long, even though it’s only been 7 months. Then she quickly took away any feelings of sadness or sorry by saying this: “I’m not lucky…. just blessed.” I smiled. Immediately counting on my fingers the five words she just threw at us and walked away. What did that mean? I didn’t really get it until my sister shared a story of cute little 95-year old Eleanor’s life. See, she actually was praying about a year ago for God to take her, that she was done and just wanted to die. And then…. she changed her mind. And as she puts it… now, she is actually living. She is enjoying every day, making friends in the nursing home, enjoying the time she has with family and her new friends. She blew my mom a kiss when she was leaving and said twice, “Oh, bless her heart, she’s laughing.” She’s 95 years old, with a mass growing inside. But Eleanor is blessed.
I left there today feeling a deep feeling that I couldn’t explain. Came home and just kind of sat on my couch for a little bit unsure of what to do next. I felt like I had a lot to do, but wasn’t sure why I felt drained. Or maybe even a little bit melancholy. I was feeling, that’s why. Feeling things about life and death and questioning all of it. I get deep sometimes, wondering about my purpose in life, about my own existence…. asking if I am fulfilling my calling in the best way that I know how. I often ask questions to the universe, to God, asking what more I can do. And then it hit me again, an opportunity that I missed that I still can’t get out of my mind.
I was driving home from NJ the other day and passed a woman probably my age in a minivan that looked like it just got sideswiped. The side mirror was dangling and there were big scraps down the side of the van. She looked to be crying on the phone, shaken up. No other car was around so I would assume it was a hit and run. I tried to get over off the ramp where she was but cars were flying right behind me. I couldn’t stop or I would have gotten run over. I wonder how often in life that happens and we don’t even know it. We don’t stop even when we see something around us that is going on. Or, how often we “pass” things in our lives that we don’t even see, therefore could do nothing about. I can’t get that woman off my mind. I wanted to stop and help, but wasn’t able to. It still bothers me 4 days later. I don’t even know what I could have done to help, but perhaps it was a moment of just letting her know she was not alone.
I recorded Oprah’s last show last week and picked tonight for some reason, to watch it. It was always my desire to go to see her show live. On my 127 things to do before I die list, I actually wrote “Be invited on Oprah with my book”…….. I think there was a small piece of me as I watched this last show tonight that saw that dream die. I know that is no longer an option. It was weird how that actually was a sad moment for me. But the show itself moved me in ways I cannot explain. I feel shaken. Not in a bad way, but in a way that almost felt like an awakening. So much of what I have pursued so far in my life has come from little moments of inspiration here and there from the people I respect most. She is high up on that list, and honestly, like the Oprah show or not, she has done some amazing things for this world and the people in it. And her challenge for all of us has always been, to live the life we were called to live… and to be thankful in that blessing.
Her last show was extremely moving. It was my reminder today of why I was feeling the way I was. She said that we are here “To live from the heart of yourself, knowing what sparks the light in you, so you, in your own way, can illuminate the world.” I am very thankful that I watched that show tonight. Three times.
“Everybody has a calling…. DO not get it confused. It doesn’t have to be something… that makes you famous… You carry whatever you’re supposed to be doing, carry that forward and don’t waste anymore time… Use your life to serve the world…. Your being alive makes worthiness your birth right. You alone are enough.”
I can’t tell you how many times I rewound and listened to those words tonight. Thinking about about Eleanor wanting God to take her…I wonder how often my mom thinks and feels the same. She just can’t tell us that. I think about all the times that those around us are suffering, often quietly. Often alone. Feeling incomplete and empty, ashamed and unworthy. I have felt all of those things too. Some days I still do. We all DO just want to be validated. We all just want to be heard. What a lesson today. What a feeling of gratitude I have for feeling. I so much want to make it my calling to listen to those around me so they know what they say matters.
I heard these words on pause and rewind. Letting them sink in. They hit me hard. I watch my mom in her chair, not able to communicate almost at all. I watch Eleanor get around great, sharp as a tack at the age of 95. I watch a woman on TV share with the world, 30,000 guests, thousands of shows, those simple words I wrote above. Yes, Oprah… everyone has a calling. Everyone has a purpose. And sometimes gratitude, reaching out to help others, understanding our common connection, just our need to be heard and validated is what our calling is. And maybe some days I am not so lucky. Maybe some days I don’t bring the best energy to myself. But just like 95-year old Eleanor, I am blessed. And I am willing to take responsibility for my own energy. And I am not waiting for anyone to fix me, inspire me, or complete me. I am all of those things. Thank you to the three women who reminded me of that today. I’m not lucky… just blessed.