My Aunt Marion passed away tonight, just hours ago. While I didn't spend a lot of time with her in my lifetime, what I do know is that she was a woman who gave. and gave, and gave and gave. She lived her life giving of herself, constantly, to her children and to the community she lived in.
Her ability to give to others, so graciously, was Marion's greatest gift.
She was battling cancer and the angels took her away tonight.
I'm perplexed about the whole thing - the whole topic of death - and the ways in which I have witnessed it in this last year. I witnessed a very dear friend lose her ex-husband. I was the one dialing 911. I was her person when she got the final word and we cried in each other's arms on the couch they picked out together. I'm also the person my husband comes home to after his hard days as a police officer. I'm the one he comes home to on the days he has witnessed humanity unfurling in ways no one should ever have to see or feel.
It's all so gut-wrenching...yet, I don't think that's actually what this is about. Being a witness to death, the tragedy of the loss, the aftermath in the sadness and suffering, while indescribably painful and deserving of the necessary time to mourn and make peace isn't about us stopping our lives too. The beauty is in finding the grace, the strength our loved ones left with us. It's about honoring their brilliance and not letting that light die with them....it's about igniting our flame even more brilliantly and going forward fearlessly in the direction of our dreams.
And the hard truth is, the only thing separating you and me and my sweet aunt is a diagnosis.
When I stopped breathing on the operating table during my daughter's birth and I thought for a moment that *this* could possibly be it, I felt completely panicked and the words, 'I have SO MUCH MORE TO DO HERE' screamed from deep down inside of me.
I had spent 10 years working in a job that I loved for a time, but I had allowed it to become my life. I was completely ensconced in the world of 9-5, late nights and weekends, the hustle and pace to keep up, be enough, do more. It was exhausting and as the years went on, I was finding it harder and harder to find my heart in all of it.
I read this quote the other day, "I interviewed a woman who is terminally ill. 'So,' I tried to delicately ask, 'What is it like to wake up every morning and know that you are dying.?'
'Well,' she responded, 'What is it like to wake up every morning and pretend you are not?'" (Source Unknown)
When I left my job in May of last year to launch my own business and work from home so I could be full-time with my daughter, I felt like I had wings. I felt like I was getting SO much closer to my soul's calling. I felt like I could do ANYTHING. And, by and large, I still do, BUT, there is still something holding me back from REALLY going for it.
It's like there's this invisible fence keeping me within a certain radius of thinking and doing, playing by the unwritten rules I've outlined for myself.
The bigger I dream, the more daring I get with my aspirations, the sharper the sting that zaps me back in line, reminds me that the laundry needs folding, the mortgage bill needs paying or highlights the fact that someone might not approve of what I say or do.
And I realize, after watching so many people consciously choose beautiful, safe lives with their true callings buried deep within...I can't afford to play it safe any longer.
Locking my truth away is serving NO ONE.
For me, it's a proven fact that every single time I endure the shock of pushing myself outside my comfort zone the result is exhilarating and unforgettable. Every single time I dare to go there...amazing things happen. I'm talking about miracle-level amazing...beyond my wildest dreams amazing.
Those moments I choose to pick up the phone and make a big ask or click send on an email to someone that feels WAY out of my league, are the moments of brilliance that take me and this soul of mine to an entirely new level.
I am writing this post in honor of my Aunt Marion, who would want NOTHING MORE than for me to dare to go as far as my heart and passion can take me.
I am writing this for all of us who have had a diagnosis and overcame it and for those of us who have one and are still fighting it and for all of those who would have wanted nothing more than to STILL BE HERE breathing the air you and I get to breathe each day, TAKING THE RISKS we still have the opportunity to take.
Life is a fleeting gift. The only guarantee is that it is going to end one day.
I am begging you...
GO. DO. LIVE OUT YOUR SOUL'S CALLING. LISTEN to that voice deep down inside of you and HONOR THE HELL OUT OF IT.
Stop waiting for someone to give you permission.
Stop making excuses about money and mortgages and other people in your life holding you back.
When all is said and done, we have no one to face on our final day but ourselves.
My wish for you and me is that when our blessed day arrives, we look back and feel at peace with the leaps we made, the hearts we touched and the calling we fully lived out.
Godspeed Aunt Marion, til we meet again...thank you...for your heart, for remembering to send those cards EVERY, SINGLE Christmas and birthday and doing the same on behalf of my Grammy when she couldn't anymore...your love was a gift to my life.