I Choose Life. I Choose Love.

"There's so much love in this place"

Agatha, the female precog in Minority Report

In May 2015, I wrote the following:

I'm noticing things this week, like how it feels to be really alive. Fully aware of my senses. It's been a long long time and it's good to be back.

  • I see the colors, that unique bright green of just born leaves, the infinite variations of purpley-gray and billowy white clouds.
  • I smell spring, the pansies in the flower box outside my bedroom window, the rain, fresh mown grass, the very earth.
  • I hear the birds - oh the birds! - singing their spring songs. And leaves brushing against each other in the wind, accompanied by rumbly thunder. Plus the bubbling of my small indoor water fountain. So soothing, all.
  • I taste the perfection of strawberries and chocolate, a butter croissant, fresh squeezed orange juice.
  • I feel the air caressing my skin with quiet breezes and exciting it with stormy winds.

Today I proclaim: I am alive. I choose life. I choose love.

Not so for all.

Around that time, as my two sisters (who married two brothers) and their families maintained a sacred vigil for their terminally ill ninety-four year old patriarch, their journey supported by the amazing staff, structure, peace and comfort of KC Hospice House, I reflected on Mother Teresa's passion for the destitute and dying in the streets of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India. How from nothing she created a safe, clean and dignified place for people to die. To this day her Missionaries of Charity go out into those and other streets, looking specifically for the destitute who are dying. They bring these forgotten yet beloved children of God in, bathe them, provide a clean bed, and care for them with love in their last days, maybe even just their last hours. For some of the dying, it's the first time in their life they've been treated with kindness.

One Saturday, as I waited to see a doctor at Urgent Care, a man collapsed with cardiac arrest in the parking lot. The staff immediately began CPR, I called 911 and proceeded to pray, texting friends to pray. The man's face was ashen gray, and I kept thinking about his head against the rough concrete pavement. My small contribution to the unfolding scene: a dash indoors to grab a magazine for under said head. The paramedics arrived and the full code commenced according to advanced life support guidelines. Everyone had their own responsibilities and the team worked together like a well oiled machine.

I reflected that this man has a family, and they have no idea how their lives are being turned upside down right now. I set the intention in my heart and mind that peace and harmony would dwell in and around this place. I prayed for the caregivers, that they would have sharp minds, quick hands, and hearts of compassion.

I remained, praying, fascinated from a clinical perspective as they started IV lines, administered epinephrine, shocked (defibrillated) him multiple times. They intubated him, replaced their manualchest compressions with a pneumaticautomatic chest compressor, and loaded him into the ambulance. Pump. Pump. Pump.

I marveled at the contrasts and graces of the day. I noticed how my hands felt across my chest in prayer mode. I noticed the clouds in the sky, the breeze against my skin, the sound of the traffic, the smell of the concrete. I reflected on the sequence of events that brought me there, now, at that moment. And later, I would ponder the irony that my visit to Urgent Care was in vain.  Or was it?

I also noticed that I needed some time to process what just happened. I did, with great love and compassion, allow space and time for this.

Meanwhile I realized, I am alive and for that I was thankful.

I choose life. I choose love. 

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