It is fitting that a hummingbird flutters nearby me at this moment. I am distracted by the sound of a light buzzing and look in the direction of that sound. I see a flash of black and I am instantly comforted by the little guy as he hovers in front of me for a split second and lands on a branch a few feet away. There is significance in everything.
Ten years ago, I was very involved in raising my small children and taking care of my elderly parents. It was a difficult time for me. I loved my parents tremendously and never once doubted the decisions I made to help them as they needed it. I was ever grateful for the time I spent with them and for the enriched life that the so lovingly gave me.
Many many people who cared deeply for me suggested that it was too much for me to handle. Nothing about my situation lended itself for me to be the one with the extra responsibility and stress to take care of my parents when they were at their most dependant. I know everyone meant well and saw me struggling and wanted to help. I was fine. I found the strength I needed. I sought the support I needed. I had the faith I needed. Most of all I believed I could do it and I let the love of God envelope me and He took care of all of us.
Now every so often I hear people discuss how they would handle or are handling what is happening with their parents. There are so many options. I don’t judge. I don’t even make suggestions or offer advice because I know that everyone must do what feels right for them. For me, what I did may seem very ordinary. It may seem like a no brainer or an obligation. I fulfilled a promise. I completed my duty. I sacrificed. I help the family together. I did what needed to be done. I did what I felt in my heart was the right thing to do. I made decisions based on what my parents wanted even if it didn’t fit in with what I wanted or what my siblings wanted, or even when it was partly detrimental to my own well being. To me, it was that important. I didn’t know why. It just was.
When I went trhough it – it being helping my parents through the illness, disease, failing health and ultimately the death of my mother; while at the same time the dealing with the injury, surgery, rehabilitation, and recovery of my father and his inability to be her caretaker and then his decline in health and two years later his sudden death – I took it day by day. I honestly and intently took each ordinary day and with every bit of energy and abounding love, dealt with it and hoped the next one would be better.
It was by far the worst time in my life.
Most people would try to put it behind them. It is something most adults have to go through. It was messy, both literally and figuratively. It was hard. It was frightening. It was sad. It was maddening. I fought with my brother and sister. My husband was supportive, but at times needed reassurance. My boss was supportive, but needed constant reassurance. My family was supportive, but offered little reassurance and had much doubt or faith in me or what I was doing. I wasn’t always sure of what I was doing.
I believe that this time in my life was the most triumphant, and beautiful most enriching and spiritual happening in my life. I learned the most about myself. I gained insight and wisdom. I loved unconditionally and unabashedly and received the most amazing uplifting love in return. My heart expanded and was filled with life sustaining warmth that has not diminished since that time.
It is not only that I survived it and my children and husband lived through the experience unscathed. I had been warned that my family was concerned that having my mom at home with me until she died would actually be harmful for my young children. I was cautioned that it would be traumatic. I was afraid that I would break. I was worried that my marriage would fail. I was terrified that I would fail. I was careless for the first time in my life about what my siblings and cousins thaought was best. I trusted my instincts. I stuck to my guns. My mom wanted me and I was going to see it though and I did.
What empowerment! It was the most amazing gift she could give me. She trusted me to be there for her and do right by her through her last moments. My father trusted me and respected me enough to give me his confidence. Me. The baby of the family. Me. The one who didn’t finish college. Me. The one who could barely make ends meet. Me. The one who married her high school sweetheart and never moved away from the valley. Me. The one with three small children who just went back to work full time and was commuting to downtown LA each day. They trusted me. They entrusted me. They believed in me. They put their faith in me. They loved me!
What extraordinary love that death and dying brings! I believe that death is beautiful. Dying graciously and in the comforting arms of your loved ones is the most beautiful thing ever. It is as wonderful and sacred as birth. My mother and father gave me the gift of life and brought me into this world with tenderness and love. I reciprocated by facilitating the end of their lives here on Earth, by helping them transition from my loving arms to the angels in Heaven with tenderness and love.
By doing this I ended up earning the respect of my family. I taught my children about unconditional love, duty, honor and sacrifice. My marriage gained strength and momentum by weathering this experience through and being steadfast and true throughout the process. I learned to trust myslef, my instincts, my beliefs, my faith and my abilities.
I now believe this was the most extraordinary time of my life.
The worst and most difficult ordinary mundane threatening heartbreaking moments of my life became for me a sacred happening that I treasure and hold dear. My heart is full of love for each and every moment that brought me to this extraordinary understanding. Now, I must share it and pray that others can only hope for turning their struggles into triumphs, their worries into dreams, and their lives into gifts for others to go on and live more extraordinary lives.
Driving home from the place where I wrote this the hummingbird visited me again. I have never seen a hummingbird do this while I was driving before. He was flying by and swooped down low and almost crashed into me! He hovered right in front of my windshield and I said, “you’d better move before I hit you!” He flew up and over my car. It made me laugh. Gigggling, I remembered how comforting hummingbirds are to me since the day my sister was in the hospitral with severe infection. I sat on my patio deciding between going to be with her or continuing the plans for the fourth of July holiday and seeing her the next day. Two hummingbirds flew by and one did that hovering thing and looked right at me. I instantly thought of the two birds as the spirit of my parents and I knew what I had to do. I went to be with my sister. She died early the next morning. Now there are three hummingbird spirits watching over me.