Tag Archives: death and dying

Notice the Fireflies.



I recently began as a volunteer with my local hospice organization. Persons that are referred for hospice services are presumed to have six months or less to live. Hospice services assist with their medical needs, social work needs, or provide companionship and emotional support. My interest in becoming involved with hospice is my own interest in death, dying, and assisting those that are close to death in making their transition. I will be a guardian angel for them, sitting vigil in the last few hours and days of breath. It is not a career, as much as it is an inspired calling for me right now. 


With the training that I received this week, and meeting the first person that I have been paired with, I feel completely at ease being where I am. And, I find myself being even more acutely aware of the present moment, and the importance of that. You see, the present moment is all that we ever have, even though it feels like our lives are based on past and future the majority of the time. The truth is, the past is merely a memory trace, and the future is just an anticipated outcome, that may or may not come to be.  Yet, that is often how we define ourselves and establish our identity in the world. 


For persons that are dying, especially those that are actively dying at a relatively young age, there is no more planning for far into the future; the reality is, that they have fewer breaths remaining than they had planned on or hoped for. So, presence of what is in their now, and appreciating everything that they have in their lives becomes of more critical importance. However, it is a reminder that could serve all of us in a meaningful way. 


I read, listen to, and remind myself daily of the importance of present moment awareness, in accepting things as they are, and choosing peace over conflict, judgment, regret or anticipation. It takes daily reminding for me to remember the importance of it, believe me. Yet, I am amazed at the details that I get to immerse myself in when I pause long enough from my agenda ridden life, and pay attention to what is happening right now.  


Gift yourself with the celebration of the present moment. Enjoy the symphony of birds in the morning as you awaken. Watch the puffy, changing clouds from your car on your drive to work. Breathe deeply in between the bites of your meal. And, don’t forget to notice the fireflies that glow with such mystery in your backyard. The moments deserve our full attention. 




The House of Ruth.


Dear Ruthie:

Today, I miss you so much. I am thinking of so many things that I long for about you; and the parts that I love in you the most.  So many things. So many beautiful, warm memories. 

I miss your laugh. When you would laugh really hard, you would close your eyes, throw your head back just a bit, and open your mouth up. It was a soft, hearty laugh and it always made me smile.

I miss your voice. Your voice, the way that I would hear it, would be soft in its volume and tone, yet firm in its intention. I always knew us to be honest with one another, which has been a great blessing to me in my life. 

I miss our talks, for hours and hours when I would visit you. Sometimes, I would be going through something really big in my life, and you would listen to me talk on the porch, or at the dining room table. Other times, you would tell me your thoughts about life, and things going on with me, and celebrate with me the joys in my world. You always understood me, and stood for me. I will never forget that.


I miss your generosity. You would send off a surprise card, a present, a thought of me whenever it struck you. And, it would always be an unexpected joy that never stopped delighting me. The turtle lamp that you gave to Brenda and I lights up our room each night. I think of you always when looking at that.

I miss our Dunkin’ Donuts runs when I would visit you. For you, DD was such a special treat, and you would treat whoever was with you as well, to the fare of their choice. Pumpkin spice coffee, with two sugars and cream, and a breakfast sandwich of one sort or another, with hash browns. I had a cup of DD pumpkin spice coffee yesterday and thought of you the whole time.

I miss your hands. Your hands were always so beautiful to me. They looked so soft, and pure, and untouched, yet they were strong and capable. I loved holding your hands in mine no matter what the circumstance or occasion. They felt like home to me.

I miss being in your house with you, in the morning quiet before you would get up, in the evening while we would talk or you would watch baseball, during the day as you would take Josh out for yard time. I miss every little and and big thing about you. Some days, it really hits me that you have died and I can’t be in your arms again. Not now, anyway. I cry a bit, I think of you as I look at your picture, and then, it passes by and I feel at peace once more. No matter how close the pain feels, you have changed my life in such a way that I will never forget it. 


I love you. xo  Nessa 

Leave Nothing Undone.


For a few weeks now, I have had death on my mind. Mainly because a person in Hannah’s life has been really sick, and passed away last week. It is her first close experiencing with someone that she loves passing away. It is a deep learning time for her, in knowing how grief looks for her, and what she needs to do to heal and go on.

It is a close reminder for me of how much I love this life. I enjoy my family, my friends, and being in my work and my community. I really do find something, usually many things, to be grateful for in every day. And, I know that there are many things that I would still like to do in this life before I leave it.

I believe that we need to leave nothing undone. So, if you want cheesecake, have it. If you love someone, tell them. When we put off doing what it is we truly want to do, but feel too afraid or self conscious to do it, we may not have the same, unique chance to do it again. So, don’t wait.

I think about how hard death is on the living, on those persons who feel left behind by the loved one who has died. How those loved ones wonder maybe how they will go on, what is left for them, what they will do without the person they loved here with them. I wonder myself when I think about those around me that I love, and if they weren’t here with me physically anymore. It is a distinct reminder of how I want to live my life.

Sure, it feels scary sometimes, many times, to face up to my inner fears and be vulnerable. Or to be myself full on in this world. Yet, if I really live true to what I believe, all that I really have is this moment, RIGHT NOW. That is all any one of us has at any given time. And, if that is true, I want to live it to the fullest, enjoy all the nectar that this sweet moment has to offer. And, I want to continue to live a life free of regret and what if’s. So, that is my plan, and I hope yours as well.

Leave NOTHING undone. EVER.



I spent much of my day today feeling afraid. Living in the fears of not being enough, to fail at something, to not be perfect in some unrealistic way (like there is an REALISTIC way to be perfect). I had lots of thought running through my head for my first few morning hours. The thoughts ranged from how I could boost my workouts each week so that I would lose weight more quickly, because my loss this morning wasn’t big enough, to how can I find out how my daughter wants me to cut my hair, so I don’t embarrass her? I tell you, when I amp it up, I REALLY like to amp it up.

I was completely gripped. I felt gripped by the number on the scale; gripped by my thoughts; gripped by my daughter not talking much all week; gripped by all of the sadness and sickness in the world. At first thought, I believed that what gripped me was the world pulling me into its drama and seriousness.

The truth is, I was gripped, all on my own. I was gripping on so tight, that I was strangling my true self. I had a visual picture all day, of my own hands around the front of my throat, squeezing. Completely gripped.

What I grip onto the most in the world is fear. However, fear doesn’t just show itself to me as, “I’m afraid”. Fear shows itself by me getting aggravated with a teenager who doesn’t talk much; but the real fear is that something bad will happen to her because I didn’t pay close enough attention. Fear shows itself to me by my obsession with my weight, body, and workouts; but the real fear is that I will never really love myself when I look in a mirror. Fear is me yelling at the driver who cuts in front of me; when the real fear is that I will be harmed or killed.

The only cure for the grip I put on myself, the only thing that works without fail, is being in the present moment. That can be a real challenge, in light of how fast our lives come at us now, because we are never turned off. We are always connected to something, some device. Being in the moment means really staying present, to what is going on right now. Feel it, whether it feels good or shitty. Tune in, listen to the sounds, take in the sights, appreciate the unique nature of it all, the transient nature of it.

I am gripped less and less often. And, today, I got to remember again, that when I choose the present moment, I choose PEACE.


Being Afraid.


I got a call from my doctor’s office last week, an unexpected call. They were trying to reach me about some test results. Immediately, even before I spoke with the office, I was filled with complete terror.

I became immediately and desperately afraid of dying.

Now, there was nothing indicating that my death was imminent, mind you. However, I put my faith and trust in what they were telling me as the full story, and that I had to stop what I was doing, pay attention, and do whatever it is that they told me to do, if I wanted to survive and be healthy.

I have been involved with the Western tradition of medical care for most of my adult life, and have agreed to and asked for testing and diagnostic screenings of every kind. In those various tests, issues and concerns have been discovered that might not otherwise have been known about. For that, I am grateful.

However, I also took this opportunity, this most recent time of diagnostic fear, to really look at it and think about what it is that grips me so. It isn’t the idea of being ill: if for some reason, I were to be facing a major health challenge at this point in my life, I feel completely confident that I could fix whatever was ill, and live a long life. I have faith in my own ability to be well, and that I would use whatever means were at my disposal to do so, Eastern and Western alike.

No, it was deeper than that. What gripped me that day of the phone call from my doctor was the fear of the unknown, and more specifically, the fear of death. In my wildest imaginings at that point, I feared dying right now at this point in my life. My life is full, and happy and healthy and full of love. I enjoy being in this body, and being in this world, even if it might be an illusion or a dream. I love living this dream right now. I don’t feel ready or willing to go to what comes next, even if it is more brilliant than I could ever imagine.

That was what being afraid represented to me that day. Yet, what was so calming and amazing to me, is that the fear was short lived. I felt gripped, and powerless and small, and then, I found my deep sense of peace. No matter what happens, no matter what my body has in store for me, or doesn’t, I will be well. As long as I can always come back to a place of peace, no matter what is going on in my outside, or inside world, then all will be well.

No matter what, I can always choose peace.