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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Living in the moment and more....

Well...since I have been learning a lot lately about a pretty unfortunate situation..I wanted to share a bit of it with you. To preface this, my mother had some unexpected surgery at the beginning of December. She was put on a ventilator which she had difficulty getting off of for the next 10 days.

Basically my mom is recovering VERY well from everything she has just gone through. She still requires some assistance and a lot of physical therapy to get stronger, but no longer needs a hospital. Since her sister works at a nursing home that can provide that, she is staying there. She is a little on the young side to be in a nursing home, but it really is the very best place for her right now. She is definitely improving every day and I am happy I got to spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after by her side in her room there. It was the first time we saw several of my aunts, uncles, and cousins who all used to gather over Xmas growing up. Most importantly though, was just being with my mom who is alive and getting well...talking and getting back to normal. The first 2 weeks of this month were the hardest of my life and there were a few moments I wasn't sure she'd be around for Xmas. I am learning a lot from this experience watching her heal and work through some difficulties. These are some simple things that people often gently advise us to do all the time...and we definitely don't always think about them, let alone take their advice. How many times have you been told to "live in the moment"? "Just breathe"? "Don't be so hard on yourself!"? Watching my mother work so hard to breathe of the ventilator...watching her overbreathing, much too quick, and not getting a good exhange of oxygen and CO2 because of it... I am reminded how very important breathing slowly and deeply is. I forget to ALL the time. Not knowing from day to day whether she would get off the vent, or need a tracheostomy, or worse, and when I should tell my jobs I will return to NYC to work because anything at all could happen the very next day forced me to live in the moment...as I never had before. Plans for the future? Memories of the past? They mean nothing in this present moment, because it could be all you have. Watching my mother, who is fiercely independent, struggle with relying on those around her for so much more...and causing herself some added physical distress if she was unable (one day) to perform the physical therapy she so anxiously woke up to accomplish...as well as listening to her apologize for all the things she hadn't prepared for to alleviate our stresses throughout this experience reminded me to not be so hard on MYself for everything I don't think I have done yet...or for not having everything happen as I had wanted it to. These stresses we put on ourselves not only prevent us from being happy but often manifest in our bodies...not always in such drastic ways, mind you...but they are never comfortable!

Now, I have always adored my mother. I have been blessed with a pretty incredible family and a mom I don't think I have ever taken for granted. My brother and I may fight, but in the end...we have a great family, and we know it and acknowledge it often. Before any of this, I have been grateful for it. While my mom was in the ICU I was reminded again how incredible she is. When I went home to see her over Christmas, I thought I couldn't possibly be even more grateful for her and more time with her. Then I found out a friend's father passed away the day before Xmas Eve. There is a lot more that goes along with what she is dealing with right now. Suddenly this vast expansive space of gratitude I didn't know existed opened up inside me. In this I feel I have learned the most important truth here... there is no such thing as being too grateful for ANYTHING!

I know that there still may be some tough times ahead, but it is impossible not to be grateful for these lessons I am learning that will continue to help me learn and grow and get through any situations that may arise...whether they are this intense or not!

Happy New Year everyone!!