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My back has been out for a week solid now. I could hardly stand up straight even yesterday. And yet when my friend Brandi called and asked if I wanted to take a walk with her this morning I jumped at the chance to get out of the house. Even though my back was telling me I shouldn’t do it. Not to do it even.. lol. I got out and we walked about 2 miles (about a 30 minute walk) and let me tell you I felt every step I took. My back tightened up and felt like it was going to let me down but I pushed though the sore ache to find the fortitude to take each step. When I got through with my walk I felt accomplished and exhilarated.
I forgot that walking helps to clear your head and it relaxes your mind. I realized while I was walking today that I didn’t just need the walking to clear away the layers of fat I have been hiding behind for years. I needed the walk to help clear away the stress that is apart of my day everyday. You see when you have a child a with a disability and then another family member falls ill and then another and so on and on.. you lose yourself and when you do you forget that you need to take care of yourself so you can take care of those you love most.
I wish I had known this all along. And though my back is still sore and stiff a little, I wish I had known that the secret to feeling this good was simply just taking a walk.
My mom’s brother Charlie Bright (Bud) Paris passed away on Friday May 7th, 2010 at 10:52 PM. I won’t get into the various entities that brought about the demise of the Uncle I knew in my childhood but suffice it to say that the medical community didn’t do a thing to help him after he had a traumatic brain injury in 2004. I just wanted to share my thoughts about his passing. This isn’t about sharing the death experience so much as about what I learned about myself. Bud had been misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s , stroke, TIA’s and finally he was diagnosed with a heart condtion and pancreatic cancer. The cancer is what really took his life but the TBI is what began my journey as his primary care giver over the last few years. Now on to my lesson.
My mother and I were by his side as he breathed his last breath and it was not the scary ugly thing I thought it would be. I found that his death a starkly beautiful yet singularly solitary thing. This wasn’t something we could do for him or even help him do. He had to do it himself and he was beatiful in his passing. When we first arrived he was having some breathing problems and hospice was brought in to help with the pain he was having. The hospice nurse was ready to pronouce him gone around 7 pm but when my beautiful uncle heard his favorite sister’s voice after taking what we all thought was his last breath he kick started his heart into a normal rythym. After that point his breathing slowed at natural intervals until he was gone from us.
The beautiful thing about this experience is that I don’t think I am afraid of dying anymore. Bud was so peaceful in his passing and my mother and I were glad that he wasn’t alone during his passing. Everyone who met Bud in the last few months of his life wanted to gather him close and keep him in their back pocket. He was such a sweet sweet man. Before the accident he was a real man’s man. He was an avid race car fan.. didn’t matter what kind of car race it was he was there if possible and if not he was watching on the nearest TV. He drove a dump truck in later years but in the prime of his life he was a heavy equipment operator and a mechanic.
You see, Bud has always been a fixture in my life. He was there for all of my childhood milestones and some of my adult ones too. He was actually more of a father figure to my sister and me even though he was my mother’s older brother.
My papaw Charlie (Bud’s father) died when I was a very young girl of 7 years and I became afraid of death. I was so close to him and when he died it was a devastating thing for me. Death takes from you those that you love most and it seems so final. Plus I am closterfobic and I mean I really hate small closed spaces. Just ask my kids anytime we are on a long road trip and I’m trapped in the car with them.
We had been told the weekend before that Bud wouldn’t make it through the weekend but he did and then it was the end of the next week. We went on Thursday to see him and he was wide awake and alert. He knew who we were and he ate well that day where he hadn’t been eating much at all for a couple of weeks and we thought maybe just maybe they were wrong about his diagnosis. False hope that. You see this was the beginning of the dying process.
I didn’t even know there was a dying process. Everyone else I loved that passed went in their sleep. Both my father and grandfather went in their sleep and I wasn’t with my paternal grandfather when he passed so I no frame of reference to judge all this by, but there ARE stages. Sometimes if a person is afraid it can take a long time for them to pass they fight to stay in this world with one foot in the next. I hope that my mother and I reached my uncle and he could hear us telling him it was okay to move on to his next life. That we were at peace with his passing and that he didn’t have to stay to take care of us anymore. He was needed in another life, another place. A beautiful wonderful glorious place. A place I hope to go to someday. You see what I learned about the dying process wasn’t that I was afraid of dying but of living. I have always been the caretaker in my family and I thought I was doing this nobly dedicating myself to my dad,his injured girlfriend, my autistic son, my other LD son, my nephew, my sister, my grandmother, etc. I thought well they need me. I can’t just walk away from these responsibilities. I was “too busy” to live, to take care of myself and to thrive. Me who thought that I was totally the opposite of my grandmother whose afraid of everything is just like her. I was afraid to want happiness and creativity. I was afraid no one would like me or want to hear what I had to say.
I woke up today and my new mantra is going to be I AM NOT AFRAID. I am not afraid to , love, laugh, cry, play, or die. I AM NOT AFRAID TO LIVE.
Thank you Uncle Bud!
You have given me the most wonderful beautiful gift I’ve ever gotten.