Monday, February 7, 2011

Death, Life and Manatees

I have been reading alot about folks losing folks.  I read about my dear Ms. Moon losing her friend Colin this morning.  Then my sister called and told me that today is the second anniversary of the death of her dear friend, Anna from pancreatic cancer.  As if that wasn't enough death and destruction, I realized that tommorrow is the 15th anniversary of the death of my mother, Doris Joy.

I don't know about you but I'm really in no hurry to die.  If I do, I just want to drop dead in the middle of a great italian dinner or at a club when I've had a few drinks.  I want to be gone...none of this coming back and then having to be half dead for awhile.  No offense to the folks that want to live forever in any condition...that's just not me. 

Since I was a hospice nurse, I went to alot of funerals.  I went to some really great ones and some that were just not the tribute to the person that I had hoped for.  I went to one in a giant church in Denver with screens up on the walls with the lyrics to the songs projected on them.  When the pastor was giving the eulogy, the screen had the giant face of the deceased on it.  I wasn't sure what I thought about that since I rarely like any photos taken of me and it would be difficult to find one that looks good that big.

Anyway, I have spent enough time on death in this post.  I want to talk about life and living it like it was getting close to the end.  Living like there may be a time limit..not like you're waiting to die but doing things that are put in front of you and not being afraid.  There are alot of things I have done that if I let my fear take over, I would have never done them.  I would have never done a 14er, been a camp nurse, or went to Europe.  I would have never bungee jumped from a crane, gone white water rafting, or swam with manatees.  Fear did not win out at those times.

Last summer, the boys and I swam with the manatees in Crystal River, Florida.  My sister had planned it and away we went.  We drove up, got our wet suits on and took a boat out to where they were supposed to be.  If you have ever seen a manatee, they are huge.  We pulled up to a spot where we saw ripples in the water and there they were.  My sister and my sons put on their snorkels and slowly eased into the water...as they were told.  They quietly floated and waited for these giant things to come to them.  I, on the other hand, stood with my snorkel on and argued in my head about going in. I was really afraid...the manatees were big and scary, or so I thought.  "Mom, come on", I heard from my oldest son, "There is one swimming right below me."  "Be careful" I shouted, and the next thing I knew, the manatee was surfacing and my son had his hand on it's back.  Then I looked toward my youngest son and saw this.  He was looking into the baby manatee's eyes..It was beautiful.

I decided I wanted a little of that action.  I slowly got into the water...still very afraid but more curious than anything.  I started to swim around when my sister pointed to where one was swimming by himself.  I slowly swam toward the beast and reached out my hand.  It swam up to me and looked me right in the eye.  For a moment, all I heard was my heart beating and silence.  It looked at me for what seemed like an eternity.  I have never witnessed such calm and peace as with that animal.  I started to cry I was so touched by it's gentleness.  I felt this feeling of love.  I felt as if I was looking into the face of God. 

I know it sounds crazy and it probably is but I still think of that experience as being in the presence of God.  The peace and kindness in the eyes of that beast is beyond anything I have ever experienced. 

Then I think, what if I didn't go in that day because I was afraid?  I would have never felt that peace in my heart at that time in that situation.  I would have missed one of the deepest feelings I have had in my life. 

What's the moral of the story on death, life and manatees?  Maybe it is this...
none of us get out of here alive, although some alot sooner than others, we all have one life...that's it..one.  We can have do-over's...a different decision every day if the one you made yesterday ain't working for you and manatees...if you want to see the face of God in a sea cow, feel peace in your heart unexpectedly...go for a swim in the Crystal River and look one in the eye.  It's an amazing experience.

We'll tawk later,
I love you all,


Elizabeth said...

What a beautiful post. I can so imagine that look -- those eyes -- as being from god or some universal love thing. You described it so beautifully. Thank you --

Ms. Moon said...

Terry, I thought about this all night. It is so beautiful. As are you.