It's in taking the time to notice people and things around you that you truly live and you fully experience all the wonderful things that life has to offer, even the sad ones.
Sadness. I sat in a patients room and held her hand. Seventy-five years old and a bit confused. Her husband died last week and she lay there plaintively calling out the nurses. "I don't want to die. I'm going to die. My husband, he died. I'm all alone. I don't want to be alone." So something that isn't in my job description, something that I felt needed to be done. I put on the bright yellow isolation gown and latex gloves and sat on the chair beside her bed, holding her hand between my two hands, and she tried to speak to me in faulty and broken English that was jumbled with Italian. Almost completely incomprehensible. We'll come to that place at the end of our lives, where our mortality is staring us eye to eye, unavoidably in front of us, unable to dodge or ignore. She asks me for a priest. "I have to make confession..." she trails off, as she closes her eyes and lays back on her bed. Her grip on my hand does not loosen; she does not want to be left alone.
Beauty. The snow flakes falling as I walked home from work were huge and soft, gently tumbling from the sky, frosting the sidewalks, roofs, streets and pedestrians, making everything look so much more beautiful, hiding the dirt and debris. Street lights reflected, glowing off the snow already on the ground, and when I looked closely, I could see the shadows of the snowflakes as they fell from the sky, just about to land on the ground. The shadows--so little and so many of them, reflecting the molecules floating around in the sky, making me realize how beautiful variations of the weather is, how much our eyes can see. Our eyes--our vision. We can see so much and we take it for granted. We glance quickly at things, never pausing to think about the fact that we're taking in so much colour, dimensions, shapes, textures...Windows to our soul, expressions of how we feel, capturing the life around of and permanently imprinting our brains with memories... Snow fell for a few hours and this morning the sidewalks were slushy and dirty, brown with mud and melted snow...but I remembered the magic of last night as I made my way home from work, enjoying the temporary peace that seems to blanket the city during a snowfall.
Kindness. And walking home through the snow, there is a man who has already industriously cleared away his sidewalk, shoveling the snow from his front path onto his yard. He has a bucket of salt and a little scoop and he tosses it onto his walkway. He sees me coming down the sidewalk and quickly jumps out ahead of me and throws salt for me to walk on, smiling as he does so. "Thank you." I smile gratefully at him, enjoying the respite from slipping down the sidewalk. Sometimes it seems like people don't know how to be kind to each other and those little acts of compassion or thoughtfulness are so rare, I hang onto them and treasure them. They mean a lot, because they demonstrate the kindness of a person's heart. We're all so caught up in doing our own things, enjoying the life for ourselves, and we lose sight of the fact that we're on this planet for a reason, placed in these situations for a purpose, relationships have been predestined and planned... So kindness can't be taken for granted and must be treasured and hopefully passed on. I'll try to think of something I can do that is kind and thoughtful...
All in all, Monday was a good day, with those strong emotions tumbling about in my head. As I walked down the apartment hallways, I thought to myself, 'I hope Eric is over tonight. It would be nice to have someone else around'. And I walk through the front door and he's sitting on the couch playing Skip-bo with S. We sat and talked, played some more games and ate food, and generally enjoyed the evening.
It really is the little things in life that will mean the most. The times spent with family and friends, laughing or crying, happy or sad, destitute or rich...I wish more of us could pause and come to that realization. This life, this is all we have. Make the most of it and take time to recognize sadness/beauty/kindness.