The best gift of all

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The holiday season has begun, the hustle, bustle, tightening of waistbands, celebrations, Christmas music, decorations are starting to appear in my neighborhood.  Today I even ventured the thought of putting up one of my little artificial trees on my kitchen table, and hours later I’m STILL liking the idea…. 

The thing I love most about Christmas is the giving.    I also love that when you run in to the grocery store to pick up something quick, or into Walmart (YES, I shop at Walmart, I’m a single, self employed artist, remember?) you see friends, people you haven’t seen in years.  It is amazing how in five minutes you can catch up in  10 minutes or less what has happened in your life.  Let that be a lesson for us on story telling! 

I had a leisurely day today at home, a nice quiet day.  I was thinking about a friend who is at the end stage of her life, dying of breast cancer.  I saw her two weeks ago at her home with other friends, she hosted a warm, welcoming brunch for us.  It was a bittersweet yet beautiful experience for me.   A woman of incredible courage, immense beauty inside and out, with a softness and acceptance of where she is in her life, with this illness.  Soon she will be saying goodbye to her husband.  For the past few months her purchases, her actions have been with her husband in mind, his life ahead, without her.   Acceptance, love, strength.

The holidays are a wonderful time for many.   Advertisements on television, radio, ads always leave us with the image that it is a happy joyous time of the year.   It is, for many.  I wish it were for all.   We will all have times in our lives where our holidays will be sad, or we will go thru them with a heavy heart.   Life just isn’t always, or sometimes doesn’t even comes close to the Cleavers, though I have dated a couple Eddie Haskells in my time!

Back to my friend, Elaine, I was thinking, if I am granted knowledge to know I am dying, what will I think about?  Will I be thinking about the type of cars I had?  How clean I kept my house?  (Um, NOT!!! for the simple reason that I don’t! )  Will I remember the fears or the challenges that kept me awake at night?   Will I think about all the times I felt insecure?   Obviously I do not know, but I would like to think that the things that I will think about are…

Was I a good daughter?  sister? auntie? friend?  Did I live my life in a manner that I could be proud of, accepting that I am only human, imperfection and mistakes must be accepted as proof of living a good life?  Did I have the courage to tell those I cared about “I love you”?  Did I have the courage to speak up for what I believed in?   Did I laugh enough?  Did I bring laughter into the lives of others?   Did I touch the lives of others in a way that they will remember me and smile?   I hope I will remember my first kiss, and my last, the first time a man stroked my face and hair, and again, the last.   I hope I will measure my success by how much I loved and took risks on challenging my own insecurities and doubts.  I hope that I will remember the smiles and eyes of all my family, extended, their voices, conversations we had, and I hope that I will be able to take with me all that love.  If not, it is certainly the last thing I hope I am blessed with… what more could we possibly hope for?

This week I plan to go visit my friend Elaine, it could very well be the last time I see her.  Perhaps I will bring her flowers, bake her the muffins that she liked, bring her some cider or something.   What do you bring someone who is dying?  You bring them your love, your honesty, you bring them your ears to listen, your hands to hold theirs, your eyes to witness their very existance, and perhaps I will bring a book, read her one of my favorite passages.

My girlfriend and I were discussing some “gift” ideas without spending a large amount of money.  I suggested writing the person a handwritten letter telling them just what they mean to you, thanking them for being in your life, and telling them just how much you love them.  When I have done this, the receipients have been very pleased with their “gifts”, when really,  I was merely expressing what was in my heart.  Sometimes the nicest thing is to hear we are appreciated and loved. 

There is no greater gift we can share with someone than giving of ourselves, our time.

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