Monday, October 15, 2007

What Do I Want to Do with My Life?

It's an honest, heavy, question, pressing on me far more intently than when I perused the subject last month.

My mom died on October 6th. Two months of illness, surgeries, blood transfusions, infection, ICU stays, and all that goes with it, ended on a beautiful Saturday morning, at home, in her own bed with her family gathered around her. Her breathing slowed, and then stopped. Peaceful . . . that is what everyone hopes for at the end.

I wish we could say that we did everything right while making hundreds of decisions over the past two months. What I can say is that we made the best choices we could (especially when acting as a group), and that when faced with the ultimate decision we chose to offer her dignity and the end of suffering. I hope that everyone in my family can see that what is is, and that second guessing doesn't give you more time, and that truly there was no ending but the one we got. In truth, one decision probably bought us 3.5 weeks (Was it right? I can't know, it simply is what was done), and another brought the final 48 hours.

I wasn't a perfect daughter. I am content with that. My mother and I were fundamentally different in our values and life philosophy. Still, we managed to create a bridge that we could be happy on. She could (and did) drive me crazy, and I am sure that I drove her crazy too. We weren't especially close (not as close as she wanted), nor were we best friends. I won't try to romanticize the relationship now that she has died. I was conflicted often, and in turmoil when it came to balancing her needs with my own. But she was my mother, and there is still profound grief in her death. I think that is completely human and normal. I think it's healthy to accept reality and to offer her compassion, to offer it to myself as well. We did the best we could.

Here we are 9 days later, having been through a busy week of grieving and preparing. We've chosen clothing and jewelry, ordered flowers, and held a funeral service. We've visited with friends and family, near and far. Now comes cremation (today), and a burial on Saturday. We keep saying goodbye in bits and pieces, and it's hard.

My children are more grounded in the moment, and for the most part they don't dwell on their loss. They simply must play, and ask questions, and hear stories, and sing, and squabble, and plan Halloween . . . on some level they know that their lives go on, and they seem not to be faced with any major decisions. Their lives are too new, and they do not question the path they walk.

I, on the other hand, feel the weight of my years and the importance of time. Last night I came home (the first night that was ours alone), and looking around I saw so much, and I thought of the week I'd spent and who I'd spent it with, and I heard that big question pop into my head: What Do I Want to Do with My Life? More specifically, I suppose, I am asking myself if I am doing what I want to do. Am I focused? Do I know what my priorities are? What do I want? Am I filling time just as I fill spaces?

The day of the funeral I thought to myself, I can't leave now. Can't leave my dad. Can't leave my family to flounder when the one person who kept us glued together is now gone. But don't I flounder with them? I am no savior. Thinking that I couldn't leave added to my grief, and I realized that I might be trading my happiness for some idea of loyalty that isn't required of me.

I don't have any answers right now. I know I have been on the right path (can I be on any other?) and that for now I must keep walking. The answers will come to me. The questions, they pop up everywhere.

Am I ready to completely ditch the very flexible holistic education program that's we've not really been using, and embrace fully the learning and living lifestyle which we have lived for the past year? Would I rather go in the other direction and participate in the Enki teacher training, so that I could open a small private school (no, I don't really think so)? What do I want my role to be within the Enki community? What is best for my children, and for us as a family?

In other words, do I make that final leap off the cliff, throw off the idea that any one person may be right about education, and trust myself, Papa, and the boys to take full control and responsibility for our lives?

(I write it out, and I know the answer.)

Do I really want to spend my time pursuing the hobbies that I have surrounded myself with? Knitting? Crochet? Sewing? (Which is still theoretical at this point.) Why do I read less than I want to, or spend time reading things that aren't high on my list?

Do we spend enough time together as a family? Why do I pay lip service to playing games and spending time in nature and yet fill most of our time with other things? Are the other things more important to us right now? It isn't as if we are a scattered group of four people with no connection. We are a strong family. I will spend more time observing, I will add in some of the things I want to do, and I will see how it fits.

I will be here less. Well, not necessarily writing on the blog less, but certainly participating in online forums and groups less often. I had already tapered off much of my online activity over the past year or so. It's important that the computer be a tool, and my family and community be where I focus my energies. I already knew this.

Papa and I have talked often about the impermanence of this life, and the illusion of time. We know that we must live in each moment, savor them, and make each one full of love and worthy of the time given it. That doesn't mean that we won't all cuddle up for family movie night or a ball game, or that we won't be silly, or that we abdicate from all mundane responsibilities. It only means that we bring more awareness to all of it, something we have been seeking for a long time, and something we will continue to seek.

Today I look for the small pleasure in the tasks of everyday living. I call upon my patience. I live with the knowledge that I may die tomorrow or 50 years from now, and that either way I want each day to be one that lifts me up, that nourishes me, that is in line with my values. Whatever time I have, I want to live it aware.

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