Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Life and death and everything in between

When we moved to Korea, I became friends with two sisters, one a year older than me and another a year younger. Although I hung out with one at a time, at different points during our station there, I considered both to be my friend. Our fathers kinda, sorta, worked together; certainly, they knew of each other and aprroved of our friendship.

Time passed and our lives in Korea ended at the same time. They went to their next PCS and we went to ours, Hawaii. It was the good ole days and we wrote letters and sometimes called each other.

(Children, back when I WAS YOUR AGE we had this thing called LONG DISTANCE. And we had to PAY for it! The mailman brought us HAND WRITTEN letters that took days or WEEKS to get to us, not minutes! And it was UP HILL, both ways in the sand dunes!)

Our corrispondence waxed and waned over the years. I married young and had babies before most of my friends from Korea. I was at a different point in my life but I still loved and cared for these sisters.

Two years ago, the youngest sister got married.

Today, her husband passed away.


I had another good friend in Korea, S. S and I looked alot alike. Like the two sisters, I kept in touch with her over the years. Of all my friends, hers was the only wedding I was able to attend.

She is in labor right now with her first baby.


It is staggering how, in one day, one moment, there are the greatest mysteries of life and death. Any minute now, my friend will hold her new son and simply watch him breathe on his own. Hours ago, my other friend watched her life partner breathe his last.

The beginning of life and the end.

They say when a woman is in labor, she is on the edge of death, tettering at the brink. They say you die a little to bring life into this world. Certainly, it is the death of your old self and the birth of the woman in a new role, a new life, as this little person's mother. A tiny person, dependent on them for everything.

That is how we leave this world. Not tiny, but dependent. It struck me, in the NICU, how some begin the world as others end- gasping for breath, needing assitence, dependent on oxygen and feeding tubes.


And death.

The great equalizers.


When I heard that my friend's water broke last night (ironically, about the same time I began working on her baby gift- I should mail that, huh?), I was estatic. My exact words on Facebook were, "Squuueeee!" And squee indeed! A new little baby to coo over with big fat cheeks to kiss and snuggle. Pure joy. I wish I could visit them.

When I learned that my other friend's husband passed away, my heart broke. At 30, we are not and should not be at the point in our lives where we bury our spouses. It's a terrifying thought. I'm a do-er and I want to do something... pure grief, agony and what I feel is only a fraction of what she feels.

Tomorrow, I am going to teach in the Atruim again. We will sit, and reliflect and pray.

And contemplate life... and death... and joy... and grief... and everything in between.

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