This is It

A person who is terminally ill commonly passes through a series of stages marked by physical and emotional changes that are recognizable to health care professionals. One of the last stages may be referred to as “Actively Dying.” As its name implies, this stage can be physically and emotionally active and, for a caregiver, very difficult. Inviting in someone supportive who has been through this stage before can be helpful.

In contrast, the stage after Actively Dying is calm; eerily quiet, simple. For caregivers, it feels like a long exhale after hours or days of gasping for air. Our loved one is still alive, just resting now before embarking on what many believe is the final journey home.

“This is it,” the nurse tells us, in a tone so tender and kind, it belies the words she is saying. “He won’t wake up now, but he can hear you. You can still give him the comfort and love you have been providing all along.”

A shiver ran through the room, and she continued, “If you see two vertical lines on his forehead, a number eleven, you can give him pain medication sooner than scheduled. This is about comfort now. You did a good job. You are all doing such a good job.”

 

For a Moment

Jorox Canyonby Penny Moore

For a moment

When I sink into the knowing

I feel you breath with His breath

The wind lifting ribbons

We untie ourselves without knowing

I like to hold you passing through

The ribbons gently waving on

The palm of my hand joining

Our passing on One to another

A moment never changes

When you touch it that way

 

 

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Mancala: Many Hands, Many Voices

This message sent 61 days ago:
Yesterday, buried my dad Too wrecked to go out Maybe tomorrow

The game begins against our will

tinted glass stones slip with clicks into shallow bowls  61 days ago?

smoothed into a bamboo board  So, 62 days ago

click, click  I stood frozen over my father’s casket

 63 days ago, we calculated prayer cards, coffee cups, and parking spaces

and whistled, he would have beenmancala 2

12 bowls, six and six, running  90 today

the length of the board

troughs on either end

12 days before that, a 700 mile countdown

across 5 states   and now we look up

one fist suspended above the board

stones willing themselves a race to spend

to fall 5 eternal days dividing 6 hour shifts

figuring 3 people per shift can sleep 4 hours each

measuring 2.5 every 2 hours  handfuls of gems

and something else every 6  shimmer in the light

we heard  click clink click clink

11 children

and  click click

married 56 years

counted spoonfuls of Popsicle, shirts cut up the back, beads on a rosary,

stitches across a quilt

parsed 80 words in a poem, studied 90 images in a video montage

counted breaths and arpeggios of time

between breaths  A stone falls away

from the board and we glance guiltily down

at the piles of colors, glance up to catch a bird

we counted on God  Flitting

and on each other  Outside the open window

under a vanishing sun

61 days? 70 days? 90 years?

click click clink click

our game ends gently

who won?

yesterday

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Reblogging: Good Leadership Blog – Paul Batz

Reblogging: Good Leadership Blog – Paul Batz

Good Leaders: How does sorrow enrich your leadership?

My buddy Max passed on Easter Saturday and I'm still wading through the sorrow.

Odes to man’s best friend are as endless as the ocean – individual as snowflakes. Last Saturday morning, our oldest dog Max died in my arms. Today, I’m still wading through sorrow and inspired to offer my ode.

What does the passing of a household dog have to do with Good Leadership!? Sorrow is currency for reflection, inspiration and goodness. No one promised the journey would always be sunshine and chocolate chip cookies…and everyone knows sometimes it hurts to love someone deeply.

At 15 1/2 years old, Max aged well into his Shiatsu-Poodle grey beard. He was 12 pounds of grandpa gentleness, and a fearless alpha male protector of our home turf. Three 60-pound Labrador Retrievers next door humored him daily as they raced with Max as a pack, back and forth along our adjoining fence.

Sir Maxwell of the Bloomington Batz family will be missed: my wise, warm and fiery companion.

When fatigue caused the parade to stop, Max would continue barking bloody murder with his snout piercing through the chain link – while the Alpha Male on the other side would lift his leg and relieve himself on Max. To say that Max was “pissed” has a complex double meaning.

When I was a kid, we mused about “dog-years” as 7 years to every one human year. That would make Max about 108 when he ate his last treats at the vet. Max was my soul mate during the darkest hours of my mid-life scare with acute angioedema. When others had to go off to school and into work, Max stayed home with me every minute. Faithfully.

Max was my lap-warmer, and his sister Lola liked to watch as we created blogs in the early morning.

As I write this blog, my heart is warm…but my lap is cold. Especially in his latest years, Max loved to join me in our favorite chair as I wrote, thought and prayed. He helped me write my first blog – in our favorite chair – on January 12, 2010. After our son Ben left the home for college – it was Max and me holding our own against a chorus of females. We had a man crush going, and I’m not ashamed to say I miss him.

If it had been easy to say goodbye, then it would have been wrong.

But alas, good leaders understand nothing lasts forever. Things change, evolve, advance. And we keep growing until we decide we don’t. Easter Sunday was the next day and I found great joy in thinking about the resurrection through the butterscotch soul of Max. I am feeling warmer, wiser and calmer – filled with the undying love and wisdom of Sir Maxwell, the miniature bad-ass protector of the Bloomington Batz family.

Good leaders make a habit of embracing the intense emotions of a life well-lived. And they grow warmer, wiser and calmer by a life well-loved.

Our readers will appreciate knowing: how has sorrow enriched your leadership?

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In Memory

In Memory

She said, “I don’t know if you remember…”
I do. I remember little Abby.
Dark eyed, long-limbed Abby,
Standing just behind Leah’s shoulder, saying hello.
Climbing out of a kayak,
Playing tag around the campsite,
Asking for marshmallows and another piece of chocolate
By the fire.
In the morning, she will clamber back into the kayak
And sail on,
Drifting along to that place where people we knew as children
Stay young and sweet and safe,
Unchanged by time, unhampered by ill health,
Unforgotten, no matter how long it has been.

483 Days: Are we there yet?

How do you heal after the death of someone you care about? Someone who cared about you?

Let’s see. It’s been 483 days since that windy Wednesday afternoon when my family said goodbye to our dad. 483 days. Are we healed yet? Am I?

At the one week mark, we were hosting a wake, planning a funeral, burying our dad’s casket in the snow. That was healing.

At the one month mark, we gathered together to handwrite thank you notes to the many, many friends and others who reached out to us during our difficult time. We laughed, we cried, we remembered great times with wonderful people, felt grateful for the presence, for the encouragement, of so many others, and honored our dad’s life and long-reaching legacy. That was healing.

After a few months, we reorganized some holiday traditions because it wasn’t the same without Dad, and we knew it couldn’t and would not have to be the same. That was sad, but healing, too.

By the time the one year mark came around, the anniversary, we all agreed it had become a value to reach out to others who had lost someone. “I didn’t know it mattered,” someone said, “until I knew how much it mattered to me.” “Should I take time off work and fly across the country for her mother’s funeral?” my daughter asked. “Absolutely,” I told her. And she did. And that was healing.

Now, here we are, 1 year 3 months and 27 days later. Are we healed? We are changed. Death is not a transaction; grieving doesn’t have a start and a finish. We likely began grieving long before Dad died. We grieved over his lost car keys, his diminished ability to play piano, his fading interest in politics and football. We grieved around his lost mobility and his waning appetite. We grieved for his unique ability to communicate, to tell a story, to recount an event that had happened years before. We started grieving long before that bitter evening in December, 2012.

And we will grieve on. But like us as people, our grief is changed. We look at a photo and smile. We remember a story and call a sibling to share the memory, to laugh and enjoy and appreciate and celebrate the memory we are so fortunate to have. Strength is unleashed as we move through our grief.

483 days. Healed? Never. Better? Much.