Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Life Unfinished

"Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death."

                                                                                                                                  ~ Anias Nin

My husband is the wisest man I have ever met. Hands down. 
It's a quiet wisdom, humble and real. 
These days and nights that have passed through the last three years of our lives have been anything but easy. And yet, through it all, he remains as constant as the night. True to loving me. 

Often times I read or learn something new, and being fascinated by the simple profundity of philosophy, spirituality and science - I am always eager to share these things with him. It never fails to amaze me, his intrinsic understanding of things. "Guess I never thought of it that way" is what his response is when I try to explain to him that he "gets it" - these concepts that take others a lifetime to comprehend. 

Dave and Buddhism have taught me much about myself and life. Prior to becoming ill, I was very attached to the idea of "attaining". Not so much of things as of ideals, or the way things are suppose to be. Mom, wife, homemaker, artist, runner, writer, business analyst, friend, sister, volunteer... In my mind, all of these titles held a level of importance. A sort of  Platonic philosophy of ideal forms for the modern women. I wore my badge of "I don't know how you do it all" in the most humble of ways. 

Then Lupus, Sjogren's and RA entered into my life. Making low all that I had held so high. 

As I have mentioned many times prior, this has been my greatest blessing. To die before you die

I wish I could say that I'm "there". But I'm not. The Path to the Cessation of  Suffering is exactly that - a path. And sometimes, I get a little "off the path"! This weekend was one of those times. Mixed in with my health taking a nasty spin downward, was the whole chaos of life. It's funny how when your life becomes limited to so many square feet, one can become overly attached to organization (sometimes it's a disordered organization, but it's mine!) and routine. "Who took my tweezers!" is something I have been known to scream from the bathroom only to find out I, myself, had misplaced them! But it happens. 

Monday my husband decided to do some organizing and cleaning of our garage. We are combining shop space with my father. A much welcomed decision! It will be a joy to have him around our house as the kids head back to school. Another human being! 
By Tuesday morning, this is how things looked...

Enter in attachment #1 - how things should be done. I can become quite passive aggressive with this one. "Honey, I'm totally okay if you would like to just keep working all night. It won't bother me..." This is usually met with a comment from my husband about "knocking off early" and being with the family. 


Knowing when to not continue on with the conversation, I turned around quietly and went back in the house. 

So this morning, as Roxi made her way through our home, washing dishes, running the  vacuum and cleaning bathrooms, I perched my chair out in the garage, wrapped up in a blanket and let myself be warmed by the sun...for a little bit.  

This chair is where I sat.
One dog tied to the garage rail to the right, one dog at my feet and a cat on my lap. Beautiful cloudless sky and 71 degrees kissing my face. 

Life is a process.

At the time, I could not remember who originally said this. Or maybe I thought I did. It just came to my mind. Like the butterfly that floated across my face as I sat there. A realization carried on the wings of Nature. 

There is no arriving. Life is living...and living is a score with no end. A composition of melodies and harmonies, ever changing to the tune of all that rises and falls in this world. 

I know this. 

As I look around at our garage, I am reminded of the man that is my husband. And his knowledge of this very thing. Watching him work was my first lesson. Take this canoe for example...

It's been years in the making. It's a cedar strip wood canoe - each piece meticulously cut and glued together. Sanded and coated in polyurethane -  it is a work in progress. Maybe two more months... in project management terms, this could string out to be about a year. This is canoe number two. Canoe number one was made with his father when he was a young man. 

I remember the first real project Dave started after we were married. A deck. It began with a slab of cement, about three feet by three feet. Placed to the left of our garage door. I was hoping for a deck by Fall. Two years later the last steps finally joined the new deck and the old deck to our backyard below. Like the steady ticking of a clock, he worked with patience and a calm persistence. Often times pulling up hours of work to correct something almost invisible to the naked eye. Often times in weather below freezing. 

He's a jack of all trades, and "the master of none", so he says. But I heartily disagree. He's a craftsman, a photographer, a programmer, a project manager, a banjoist...and a simply beautiful human being. His tool kit is modest - what he holds in his mind, a camera, a banjo and a few tools. His impact is great. 

He has fixed many things in this household.
The greatest of these has been the hearts of the four girls that live in our home - mine included. 

Life is a process. 

As I sat there in my chair looking out from the garage, a calmness overcame me. 
No rush.
No rush.
No rush.

If we don't ever "arrive", if life is a process of becoming - then the journey is all we have. 
To me, this brings great relief. It brings beauty to the unfinished. It brings meaning to a life changed by chronic illness. It brings contentment. The undone represents the process - it represents the Being. Alive

I'm pretty sure I'll never be a Buddha. That's the closest thing I can think of to "arriving".
And other than being a mother, and having the name Theresa...sainthood is not likely in the picture.

But I cannot think of a better person to be on this path with - 
than the man that fills these thirty-year-old boots.
The man that cares for me each and every day - and each and every long night.
The man that wants for so little, yet gives so very much.
The man I love.  

Life unfinished
is a beautiful thing.
Thank you David, for never giving up hope.


Evan Madson said...

this was so good! the pictures were stunning, and your words are always so astounding. excellent job!

Deb aka murphthesurf said...

Beautiful written. Your love and appreciation for not just your husband but where you personally are in your journey ebbs from your words. I so agree that it is the journey and not the destination that counts. Thank you for this wonderful post.

Theresa said...

Evan: Thank you!! Hope you know how much you are loved!!

Deb: Thank you again, for always supporting me. It IS about the journey!! And I am so thankful for that. Hope you have a wonderful day!

Christine said...

What an amazing tribute to your husband! After reading this, I feel like I know him without ever even meeting him. It seems to me that you are just as blessed to have him as he is to have you. Thank goodness for love....

Theresa said...

Thank goodness! ....and it seems as if you have found yours as well!! ;-)

wholly jeanne said...

I love the way you consider it a gift to "die before you die." Beautiful. And life being a journey - I nod my head in agreement. Then the touching tribute to your husband. Having been a caregiver for several elders, I hugely like that;) Julie Daley (Unabashedly Female) is my friend and writing partner, and I read your comment there today (that's how I found you) and wanted to say thank you for bearing witness to Rhonda's words. I've only been a long distance end-of-life doula one other time, and I'm just delighted we found a way to get Rhonda's words available for readers while she still very much lives, even if in hospice. I'm feeling rather clumsy in the stringing words together department today, so I'll just close (before I embarrass myself any further) by saying Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Every time I read your thoughts, I see your beautiful face and smile and it brings a smile to my face. Your words are so eloquent and your heart is so open. I'm so happy for you that you have Dave in your life....he surely is a blessing....as are you to those of us who know you and love you. Thank you once again for sharing these beautiful words. Love you!

Theresa said...

SO many blessings...Of which YOU are most definitely one, Alice. I love YOU!!