Seeking My Best Self

trying to make sense of my life – and lose some weight

The Grace of Grandma Betz

hanna grandmaThis has been a death-filled two weeks. It started when my friend, Cher, had to make the choice to put down darling Mo, a fifteen year-old chihuahua, her constant companion through joy and travail. Next was my friend David’s cat, also fifteen. Then Ryan’s ancient kitty (Guess how old?) Then Neil & Miriam’s ¬†gentle Katie, a – you guessed it – fifteen year-old Chow. (Interesting that most of my closest friends were in ‘pet acquisition’ mode a decade and a half ago.)

Death hit closer to home yesterday, not a pet, but a beloved grandparent – Hanna’s grandma. Hanna and my son Nicholas’ wedding is less than two weeks away. In a time that should filled with nothing but anticipatory joy, death has elbowed in.

That’s not fair. I’m still a momma bear at heart, and I want to step between my children and the dark interloper, hold my hands up and say, “No! You will not bring sorrow here!”

But I can’t do that. No one can. We can’t shield each other from the pain of a loved one’s passing. In fact, we shouldn’t, because grief reminds us that we love and have been loved. It reminds us that we matter, that our lives – and the lives of those we mourn – have meaning.

Hanna’s grandma lived an optimistic, active life, even in the face of cancer. She remained positive and determined, winning round after round. But when it became clear she would not prevail in the last skirmish, she acquiesced with grace. She modeled how to live courageously and die well. It’s what we all hope for – to live fully and die peacefully.

These recent encounters with mortality remind me that I have only one go-round in this configuration of space/time. I want to live it with gusto, like Hanna’s grandma. I want to experience it with exuberant joy, like our beloved pets.

It’s what drives me to personal improvement. It’s not so that the surface looks prettier – though I’m shallow enough to consider that a significant bonus. No, as I float through this amorphous cloud called ‘being’, I want the physical strength and spiritual wisdom to appreciate it fully. Because then maybe, just maybe, I’ll have the grace of Grandma Betz when it’s time to let it go.

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