According to the new "search" box at the top left hand side of my blog (which I only recently discovered) it appears that I have written quite a few count downs over the years.
Counting down to Thanksgiving has always been a good one for me because I have been thankful so many times in my life. I rather enjoy a special day when we can all sit together and express gratitude about things. And yet, it seems to me that some of our holidays are born out of, or even represent pain. For example, for some Native American people, Thanksgiving is a time of mourning, a remembrance of the massacre of nations; and Passover tells a story about coming out of the bondage of slavery to freedom.
Pain accompanies us the more years that we have lived. In "Old Friend from Far Away," a book about writing memoir, Natalie Goldberg asks us to think and write about all the different goodbyes we have lived – "casual leavings or eternal departures" (Page 239). This is an exercise I am looking forward to writing. For I, like everyone else, have had my share of farewells. The older I am becoming, the more the largest one looms (or rises?) ahead. Not that it is the first time I have thought about death and dying. Not at all. I confronted it thirty years ago, when:
- Shimon and I held my father's hand as he gasped his last breath;
- I studied grief counseling with Tom Frantz twenty years ago; and
- Through Charlie's illness and death, only nine short years ago.
Reflecting on death and dying makes it easier for me to feel gratitude about life and living in the here and now. Cliche – of course – but, nevertheless true.
So, for now, seize the day I must!
Oy, even though as I look into the face of it – this Monday is going to be a really busy one.