A few days ago one of my mom's best friends passed away. Her name was Pam and I had known her as long as I can remember. Mom and Pam were particularly close in the late 80s and through the 90s. They were still friends after that, but Pam gradually kind of disappeared from view over the last few years. I know she had health problems and she stopped going to church, and I felt like her and Mom lost touch even though they both lived in the same neighborhood. I felt like Pam, for whatever reasons, became a bit of a recluse. We saw her occasionally, but it wasn't the same.
The last time I remember seeing Pam was probably three years ago. Mom and I went to one of our favorite restaurants at the time, Jumbo Buffet, and Pam was there with her son. We chatted and it was all friendly, but Pam seemed distant...different, somehow. Mom was showing signs of dementia then, although she was still doing okay.
Pam and Mom used to take walks every day in their neighborhood. It was a ritual for both of them for quite some time, and I know both ladies enjoyed their friendship and talks very much. I always felt a little sad that Pam kind of withdrew.
I understand that she even kind of withdrew from her family somewhat as well. Evidently no one in her family, including those that lived with her, knew how sick Pam was until very close to the end. She apparently didn't share that information with her family for whatever reason. She also chose not to go to the hospital or a care facility and died at home, from what I understand. I can respect that, but I also wonder if those who loved her most felt cheated at all.
I actually don't know what was going on in Pam's life these last few years. As I said, in her later years she didn't seem the same to me.
I'm glad Pam and Mom are reunited again and I hope they are taking many "walks" together, wherever they may be.
I'm been thinking a lot about death lately. A lot.
It's funny, as I get older I think about my own mortality and, obviously, the older one gets, the more death one experiences. It's natural to lose people you've known and loved as you progress in age. I think Mom's death, Pam's death, Jonah's dad's death, the deaths of some people in Mom's old ward, Harold's death, and the impending death of my friend, Anne have really put death on my mind this past year.
Another friend's longtime dog passed away, and my other friend's brother just died from cancer.
And as I get older, I feel my body slowly falling apart. I'm only 43, but my hips and knees and back and neck and feet ache. I get winded more easily. I can't as easily do things as I could in my twenties or thirties. I don't see or hear as I did ten or twenty years ago. I know I'm getting older. And I know things will just continue to deteriorate. That's just part of mortality.
I've talked about death before (here and here, for example). It's not something I find depressing or scary. It just is. It's a part of this journey we call life and every one of us will experience it eventually. But it is sometimes hard to be separated from people you care about or love or see others go through the same thing.
I think about Jonah and me. One of us is going to go first (unless we somehow die together, but that isn't as likely a scenario), and it's going to be very painful for whoever is left behind. I think about my poor mom, who had to wait 21 years to be reunited with my father or my grandma, who had to wait almost as long to be reunited with my grandpa. I think about another friend who lost his wife shortly after Mom died and how much he misses her and misses her.
Recently I finished re-watching "Lost" and one of the themes of the show deals with death and what happens to us in the afterlife. I am convinced that the afterlife will be a great and wonderful place where we will be able to have continuing relationships with those who have gone before us.
It's weird, but sometimes I think I get "homesick" for my heavenly home. Sometimes when I watch the news and hear about wars and crime and the terrible things human beings do to one another, I long for a place filled with peace and love and kindness, which is what I think heaven will be like.
Don't get me wrong; I don't wish for death. Not at all. I like my life and it has been and continues to be a happy one. I recently wrote on Facebook:
thinking about it today: I have had a great life thus far. Sure, it's
had its share of trials and disappointments, but I honestly wouldn't
change a thing (except maybe quitting piano lessons when I was 10).
Every moment I've had in life, both good and bad, has brought me to the
person I am now, and I like who I am and the life I lead. If I died
today (which I hope is not the case) I could look back on the life I had
and be very satisfied with how it turned out."
I think how wonderful it will be to see Mom and Dad again and my friend, Melanie, and Marlyse and my grandmas and grandpas and aunt and neighbors from the ward and Jonah's dad, etc. But it also saddens me that those left behind continue to grieve, even if it's only for a relatively short season.
I'm quite convinced that Mom visited me this evening. It was a feeling, but a very strong one. I'm glad she reminds me she's still around. Sometimes I need it. I am quite certain our departed loved ones are not far off at all.
I recently read a book called The Afterlife of Billy Fingers, which I briefly talked about in this post. It reminded me of something that has really been solidifying itself in my brain: I am more and more convinced that the essential purposes of life are to learn and to love. If we are doing those two things, we are living successfully. I don't believe that the kind of judgments we cast on one another (and ourselves) in this life exist so much in the hereafter. I recently came across this quote by Ram Dass:
"When you go out into the
woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some
of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are
evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and
you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You
sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned
that way. And you don...’t get all emotional about it. You
just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans,
you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You’re too this, or
I’m too this.’ That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning
people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are."
Many near death experiences I've ever read about describe an indescribable love and the experience of not feeling judged. I think this life is a school of learning whatever lessons we're here to learn and a place to learn what love is and how to give and receive it in great abundance.
Actually, we don't need to learn to love. We already know what that is from the pre-existence. We're here to be reminded of the love we already know.
I would like to experience a life of pure, unfiltered love. The world would be so much better if we just loved without judgment, if we could really understand each others' hearts purely and totally. I long for that.
As for me, I try (and sometimes fail) to be as good and as loving a person as I know how to be. I hope whenever my time comes that I will be remembered as someone who brought love and positivity into this world we all share.