Reminders of Impermanence
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced vertigo, but I did a few weeks back and it was debilitating. The world was spinning; my balance was so impacted that I could hardly walk. Some might say, this is a good time to read or catch up on some Netflix, but no. I couldn’t open my eyes without dry heaving. It was awful. I saw a doctor who prescribed anti-nausea meds and I sat in bed with my eyes closed, wondering how long it would last. At times, I was overwhelmed with terrifying thoughts about possible neurological problems, how long would this last, how would life be like if this was permanent, etc.
In those moments, the only thing I could say to myself was “This is just right now.” Breathe, meditate, and repeat. This lasted 3 days until I could finally move around the house, so very gingerly and slowly. I felt about 99% better 8 days later. I’m so grateful for my vision, my body's ability to balance, and for my breath which supported me through this. My husband too!
Following this, my younger sister’s husband went into a walk-in clinic for a severe ear infection. From there, he was rushed via ambulance to the ER. On his second day in the hospital, my sister called me, and I can still hear her words… “sissy, can you tell me what is happening right now? What is happening? Is he going to die? What will we do without him?” All I could say was, “I don’t know sissy, I just don’t know.” At this moment, I could not reassure her, I could not fix anything, and I could not prepare her for the worst. He was put on a ventilation machine and within 24 hours, his brain swelled beyond recovery, and he died of meningitis. He leaves behind my beautiful sister and my two beautiful nieces who are only 5 and 8.
Throughout this experience I could feel my heart racing, thinking, this is all going to work out. There will be a long recovery here, but we will support her… he won’t die, he’s only 40. Emotions went all over the place. I’d feel panic, then settled, then angry, then great grief for all of them. We live in different states, and I just needed to be there for my sister but I needed to work out the timing. So, as the days passed, I realized that my presence “in spirit” was more important than my physical presence in her home, my reassurance, stable tone, and loving heart could be enough until I could get there.
During this same window of time, as I was trying to figure out my travel plans, I was actually not feeling great. I was feeling lightheaded, clammy, and something wasn’t right. I cannot travel feeling like this. and on top of feeling lightheaded, I became severely constipated.
Without going into the details, physiologically, my body was trying to do its “business,” but things were not happening. Things were going awry. Then I started worrying that I would need to go to the ER. I started imagining myself on a gurney being rushed into surgery and ending up with a colostomy bag – I wondered whether I might have cancer, how I would adjust to life with severe intestinal issues, whether I would recover, and if I might even die. Would I even be able to get to see my sister and my nieces? My thought was that I cannot leave this earth without first having supported them. During the long periods of time I spent buddying up to the porcelain, my mind concocted endless scenarios in which my life could be changed in tremendous ways and it was not a pretty ending.
With my mindfulness and meditation practice, I had some choices here. I could continue with the worry or focus on relaxing and breathing. Opting for the latter, I was able to settle, relax, and just let all things take place in their own time.
Having gone through this, I have so much gratitude for being “regular” in my “normal” day-to-day life. I can truly empathize with the suffering that this causes so many people!
Long story short, my lightheadedness was explained with the support of an online medical consultation, and my body knew what it needed to do. With great “relief,” I am healthy and am booking my flight to support my sister and girls.
All this is to say, we only have this moment in life. What has happened is behind us, what is ahead of us is unknown. Coming to presence, over, and over, and over, has allowed me to look at the last few weeks with great appreciation and gratitude for each moment as it exists, even when in discomfort, chaos, and grief.
When we focus on the past too much and worry about the unknown future, we miss these tiny moments… these tiny reminders of what right now is offering us.
All things in life are impermanent. We do not know what the next minute brings until the next minute arrives. Do not sweat the small stuff. Have gratitude and appreciation for what you DO have. Don’t waste a single moment in a thought that creates chaos. Breathe. You made it to the next moment.
There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday, and the other is called Tomorrow. Today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.
May today bring you what you most need.