This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples, no need for complication. One's own mind, one's own heart is the temple, and loving-kindness is the philosophy. - Dalai Lama
I live my life on four philosophies:
1: Always speak to a person as if the words I'm saying may be the last words they hear from me.
2: If I have fences to mend with people I care about, I mend them immediately because tomorrow may be too late.
3: Treat people the way I want to be treated.
4: Look at every situation and annoyance with one question in mind: How much does this really matter?
To the well organized mind these seem like common sense. To people that thrive on chaos the ideas are beyond their comprehension.
I wasn't always this way. I treated life as it it were eternal and there would be thousands of tomorrows. Now I respect life and treat it with the respect such a fragile entity deserves. Over the past year and a half I had the misfortune of losing three very important people in my life and having my husband diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.
I had a dear cousin. She was 37 years old and my best friend. For years we hadn't spoken due to a childish argument. Several years before her death we reconnected and the bond between us was there as if it had never been broken. We had phone marathons that lasted late into the night. We went out to lunch on weekends and trudged the malls as if we were teenagers again. During the last weeks of her life I sat by her bedside regretting our harsh words from years before and hating that those words took away from us time that we could have had together. I am thankful for the last, short years that we had together because the memories now have to last me a lifetime. I will also be forever grateful that the last words I spoke to her were, "I love you and if I don't see you tomorrow, know that I love you and I always have." She was gone the next morning on June 14th, one half hour before I was due to arrive at the hospital to sit with her.
Two short weeks, on July 1st, after my cousin passed I received a telephone call that my father had died suddenly. I hadn't spoken to my father in sixteen years. The last words I spoke to him were harsh, hateful and cruel. Over the years I had forgiven my father for the events of my childhood but my stubborn pride never allowed me to contact him and say those simple words, "I forgive you and I'm sorry." I thought when he passed that I would feel nothing. As I stood by his graveside I cried like a baby. They were tears of bitter regret for all that had occurred so many years ago and all that was left unsaid. I should have mended my fences. I will never make that mistake again.
My friend, Dorothy, my second mom. When I lost my mother 16 years ago she took over as my mom. She had been my mom's best friend. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in October 2008. While I watched her family treat her horribly I always treated her with compassion and kindness. I wondered how they could not see the amazing person she was. I took her for all of her chemotherapy treatments, helped her with personal issues, cried with her when she lost her hair and shared her joy when we found the 'perfect' wig. We shared lunches on good days and tears on bad days. I was with her in her last moments of consciousness when she expressed her fear and was able to help her find within herself the peace that she needed to go on to her next great adventure in comfort. She passed September 1, 2009. I treated her the way I would want to be treated and was there for her in the same way she had been there for me so many times over the years. I feel peace in my heart when I think of her save the bit of sadness because I miss her.
Now, on a daily basis, people that know the severity of my husband's condition ask me, "How do you do it? How do you stay so strong?" I think of those four philosophies and they get me through every day. On a regular basis I tell him how much I love him and how much he and our life together mean to me. I have apologized for any wrongs I have done him in the past and the time we wasted over the years on trivial matters. I take care of him the way I know, if the situation were reversed, he would care for me. I look at our heat that always runs either too hot or too cold and smile because it doesn't matter. I burn a pumpkin pie and laugh at myself because it's such a minor thing. He knocks over his side table in the middle of the night spilling his drinks and nutrution shakes all over the floor and I quietly clean it up without caring for the minor inconvenience because he's still here with me and I'm happy to be cleaning up the mess. I see people that used to be in his life trying to cause problems or deal with their own regrets and guilt and I can only feel pity for them because in our lives they are insignificant.
Life is a learning experience. One in which we constantly grow and evolve. I feel that it's when we become stagnant or hard and unfeeling is when we truly cease to live. We are works in progress and how we choose to progress is up to us. We are only responsible for ourselves and our own actions. We cannot help the way we feel or our emotions because emotions are neither right nor wrong...only the way we react to them. There is no point in bemoaning the fates because if we don't like our fate we should change it and if it cannot be changed we can at the least face it head on with as much grace and dignity as possible.