Just I started the book, Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah and am enjoying it very much. Birdie loves her home along the ocean and her children. Her husband was once the love of her life, but now something is missing. Birdie wonders if she’s the one whose missing out on life.
I heard about this event in Los Angeles from my daughter-in-law who volunteered. I wanted to help in some way this year. One of my resolutions for 2018 was to work more actively in helping those in need.
LA has suffered so much in the past weeks as a result of fires and mudslides, participating in a small way for this worthy cause was something I could do to help.
Saying goodbye to someone is hard, and watching someone you care about telling a loved one goodbye is harder still. In the past, I’ve cried my tears over love lost, friends left behind, and family members who have left this world. Dealing with my pain is easier to bear than witnessing the people I love and care about suffering.
Who wouldn’t want to erase the sadness in the eyes of a sibling whose marriage has fallen apart? Or mend the broken heart of your child when they are feeling the sting of rejection? How best to comfort a childhood friend whose parent has fought against the ravages of illness and age, but lost the battle?
I’d gladly take on their suffering for them if only to see their smile again. But I know I can’t. I can only be present for them during this time. Ready to offer a hug, get them a cup of tea or sit in quiet companionship as their tears wash the sorrows away.
I am not new to this vigil. As a nurse, I’ve held the hands of dying patients and have spoken softly to them while I strived to make them comfortable in those last hours. I’ve hugged family members seeking solace from another human being when their loved one has passed. I am powerless to do anything in these circumstances except to give them the comfort of having someone there to bear witness and share in their grief.
Our power lies in our silent presence, in a caring touch and a gentle word for those who are suffering loss. We gain strength from knowing we are not alone in our depth of feeling, and it is in understanding that what we are enduring is a necessary part of our collective human experience. The statement — “I’m here for you if you need me” — is a proclamation of our shared humanity.
Everyone — let me qualify this — a lot of folks around the world have their eyes glued to the Olympics. I’m one of them. When I was a young kid (don’t laugh!) forty years ago, we only received 3 to 4 TV stations at our home. We had a TV antenna on the roof of our house and when the summer thunderstorms rolled through, our reception was gone.
I always prayed it was during some Olympic event I didn’t really care about. I won’t say which ones, so I don’t offend anyone. But the ones I refused to miss were the gymnastics, running, diving and swimming competitions.
I watched Mark Spitz win all of his gold medals, Nadia Comaneci score a perfect “10”, and Greg Louganis hitting his head on the diving board. I even watched Caitlyn Jenner (then, Bruce) win the 1976 Decathlon. And don’t even get me started with the Winter Games. I wore my hair in a Dorothy Hamill cut — along with a gazillion other teens — for years!
Over the years, we’ve been witness to triumph and sadness. I remember the horror of the 1972 games in Munich. Eleven Israeli athletes were taken hostage and murdered by a terrorist group. Those athletes were honored for the first time at the Rio Olympics. And in 1996 at the Atlanta Games, a bombing in the Centennial Olympic Park as part of a terror attack affected sporting events and their security measures until this day. Two people lost their lives and 111 people were wounded in this brutal attack.
Even with those terrible tragedies, the Olympic spirit continues. Athletes around the world train with a goal of being good enough to go to the Olympics and represent their countries. Some of them will remain in our hearts and minds for years to come because their spirit and commitment are a testament to the human race and our innate human instinct to become more than we are and more than we can imagine.
So I’d like to say “Thank you” to athletes like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and all of the other athletes for giving me not just summer entertainment but inspiration every four years for the past 5 decades of my life. Now I need to go watch the Olympics.
Each story, while unique, has a central theme that the reader can identify themselves with personally. One of the most poignant themes concerns “Love and Loss”. Stories, poetry, and songs have paid homage to these tender emotions for as long as humankind has walked the Earth.
I’ve laughed and cried while my favorite characters have struggled as they dealt with love found and love lost. I rooted for Rhett Butler to win Scarlett’s love and found myself devastated when fortune didn’t cooperate. Right or wrong, as a teen, I searched for my own hero so that I could live happily forever in a white house with a picket fence. I ignored the “nice guy” in favor of the “bad boy” experiencing my cycle of stories of love and loss.
The flirty banter between our characters is balanced by the angry and tearful rhetoric in another chapter. So goes real life.
Over the past few months, I’ve said good-bye to good friends and family as they left this world. I watched the anguish of love found and love lost knowing I couldn’t change the outcome like I can on the written page. But comfort can be found in knowing as long as our own stories continue — love will be found, will be lost and will be discovered anew.