Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Monday, November 5, 2012

If I Could Bottle Pure Joy...

This is a post more for my own memory than anything else.  I'm actually fine - it's just been an unusual day.  I got a call from my mother today telling me that her sister Jana, who lived in Utah, had passed away.  She had been in poor health for years with Parkinson's Disease.  The last year or two she had really deteriorated, hadn't had much quality of life.  The one thought that stayed with me was of how wonderful she must have felt in the moment she was able to leave her poor sick body behind.  Incredible freedom and mobility after years of having none.  Having a joyous reunion with her mother, father, and a whole slew of family members.  It helps to think of that and know that it happened.  Somewhere there was joy and celebrating.

Both my mother and my aunt Margie (who lives close by me) seemed fine - just feeling a bit surreal about it all.  My mother made the comment that it felt odd to be a family of 6 and now "we are just 3."  I tried to imagine how I would feel if that were me, and I decided I didn't even like to think about it.  We grow up with our brothers and sisters, and it feels like we'll always be here together, gathering at the holidays and for birthdays.  My husband has already lost his youngest brother, and I'm sure it feels odd at times to those who grew up with Ryan to think that he is no longer here on earth.  Each person is their own little force of nature, and we miss the part of us that leaves with them.

This particular aunt was one that, when we were small children, we would spend weekends with, or stay with her when our parents went out of town.  We'd play with our cousins, and live a different life while we waited to go home again.  Although it's been many many years since I've had a lot of contact with her, those memories for me are still quite vivid.  And now it's her children - my cousins - who now  live in Utah and one in Oregon who are making the arrangements, and feeling the emptiness.  Her daughter said that she looked "beautiful."  In her day, Jana had always enjoyed her makeup and doing her hair.  In recent years, she hadn't been able to to that for herself, and so Mindy had taken particular joy in making sure her mother was done up right for her last big family gathering.  Bittersweet.

As I was thinking these thoughts, my friend Marion called me out of the blue.  Her brother had just been diagnosed today with a very aggressive brain tumor, and tomorrow, without taking the time first for a biopsy, they are going in and trying to remove what they can.  No one is sure yet what they are facing, and it is terrifying.  She said no one had really told her brother yet what was going on, and she was fearing having the conversation with him.  I didn't know her brothers well growing up.  They were several years older than us, and always seemed so unapproachable.  But I remember them, and again, it made me sad to think of my friend facing this news about her brother all alone up in Washington.  Life is a precious thing, and sometimes tenuous.  My philosophy has become to have no regrets.  No regrets that work got in the way of making a memory.  No regrets that I was too busy to visit or make that phone call.  To be bold, and seize the day.  I suggested that she do the same.  Take the time to spend with her brother and family.  Make some memories.  Say what needs to be said.  Sit in silence.  Hold a hand.  Work will always be there, and will wait.

Just when I thought the day was irreparably damaged, the phone rang, and it was this little person:

Lexi called to thank me for the "mummy candy bars" I'd sent (Hershey bars wrapped in layers of white crepe paper with googly eyes peeking out) and to tell me about her Halloween, where she got "so much candy, Mema!"  She gave me her Christmas wish list, and chattered about school.  She told me that her baby sister was walking all over the place.  And then she asked me if I was an artist.  ???  I told her that sometimes I was.  She had been looking at the Halloween plate I'd painted for her mom a few years ago, and she told me that "it's fantastic, Mema!"  She, too, is an artist, and loves to draw and create, so I told her she should send me some of her drawings, and that Papa would love some too.  She thought for a minute and said that she thought she would send us each 2 drawings.

It was a regular conversation, very every day.  But it was the sweet enthusiasm that only a 6 year old can possess that warmed my heart.  She is looking forward to being 6 3/4, however, and was a little disappointed that she would have to wait another 2 months for that because her friend Mary is already
6 and 3/4 years old.

Do you know what I'm talking about?  How does one little person lift your heart up like that?  How do they transfer joy from their world to yours?  It's a mystery, but it should be bottled and given out freely.  The whole world could benefit.

So that was my day.  Death, sickness, grave concern - and then the incredible lightness of having my spirit lifted up in the most amazing way by a little girl just being herself.  Everyone should have a Lexi in their life.  She made me remember the wonder and joy of being alive.  I'm a lucky girl today after all.


  1. You're beautiful, karen, and you spun pure gold in this post. Older people who are weighed down by weariness and cynicism can be lifted up instantly and benefit tremendously by connecting one-on-one with a child and tapping in to their innocence, enthusiasm and energy. The one-on-one aspect is important because we all behave differently when we have an "audience." I love the wisdom of your words here today, dear friend. This is what I like to call "pure seminar." The philosophy you put forth here is taught every day in motivational programs coast to coast. The trick is to be able to consistently apply the principles to daily life. It's not always easy to do "when the rubber meets the road" as they say. I "come from" seminar every day of my life. You can tell by the way I express myself. I'm for real and I know you are, too.

    Best of luck to you and the candidate of your choice in today's election, dear friend!

  2. Beautiful post Karen. Life. You gotta take what comes. "Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep"... The best way to love people.

  3. My condolences in the loss of your aunt. No matter how far away they live, it's always a little sobering to lose someone who is part of your family unit.

    And I loved our little dose of Lexi- she is a cutie!

  4. So sorry about your Aunt, although I'm sure she's rejoicing in the reunion with her family. I'm always amazed how life can change in a blink...whenever I see the life flight helicopter land at our hospital my first thought is: "someone's life and family will be changed today"....I'm blessed with 9 lovely grandkiddos who never fail to make me laugh, remember what it was like to be a young mom, and enjoy being the "old" YaYa! My oldest Grand just got her drivers license..heaven help us! I'm glad the day ended on a high note for you!

  5. I'm so sorry about your loss and best wishes for your friend's brother. It was this time last year that one of our best friends was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor. Hard stuff.

    And yes, I get the whole bottling pure joy. I need my lil Chloee fix every couple of days myself!

  6. the circle of life!! life is so precious....

  7. My mom who passed away in February, had six older and six younger siblings.
    She was the last to go. The loss of all of her siblings was very difficult for her.
    I'll be thinking about your mom.

  8. I agree with you. It's important to have no regrets and make LOTS of memories.

    And yes, those little voices raise my spirits no matter what.



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