Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Honoring a Soul Through Stillness

I'll be honest, I haven't really been able to stick with the 21-day meditation challenge.

As I've said before, stillness and I are not friends. Hardly acquaintances, really. And I've tried to get to know stillness better over the last week and a half, but I'm not really finding what I want in the quiet.

This morning, however, I had a moment.

Chap and Carol Smathers, Summer 2010.
I awoke early, my normal waking up time for getting a workout in, except a workout was not what I had planned. I lay quietly in bed, thinking of my Aunt Carol. We had learned the day before that she was in hospice care and was not expected to make it through the night. I wondered as I lay there slowly waking up if she would be doing the same this day.

My Aunt Carol is an amazing woman, vivacious and fun. She exudes joy -- it bubbles out through her laugh, her smile, her eyes. She cannot tell a joke without her telling of it being the funniest part. She seeks out the bright side of every situation and surrounds herself with positive, kind-hearted people.

Her husband, my Uncle Chap, died of heart failure about a year and a half ago. He had a slow decline with no medical answers to his declining energy and lack of appetite. We all worried about how Aunt Carol would fare after his passing, but she proved herself a resilient woman. She surrounded herself with friends and relied on family to help put her life back together, and she forged on.

She became ill only a month or so ago, landing in the hospital several times with inexplicable fluid in her lungs. She gasped for breath and panicked when it didn't come -- I cannot imagine the feeling. She was told her lung capacity was compromised, possibly related to living with asthma for her 8-plus decades, and that she would need to be on oxygen the rest of her life.

Shortly after this sentence (and this was a sentence to this active, social butterfly), she moved to Atlanta to stay with her daughter for the rest of the winter, with plans to return to her home when the weather turned better in Michigan. While there she had more bouts of unexplained fluid build-up, with little to do but treat it when it happened.

This clearly was not living to her. There is more to this story I am sure, but ultimately she opted out of ventilator support and chose to go to a hospice for care.

Tuesday evening I received said email from my dad, saying that she was not expected to live through the night.

At 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, as I wondered if she were going to wake up today, I placed my hands over my heart center and committed myself to her well-being. I wished for peace for her, for freedom from pain, freedom from panic for her next breath, and for the start of her existence on a new plane. I thanked her for her being a part of our lives, for being a joyful person to our family and others, and wished her well.

I felt a warmth spread out from the center of my chest, warming my hands and my body, and I smiled.

Hours later I received the call that she had passed, and I was sad for her leaving us, but comforted in knowing I had already said good-bye to her soul, even if her physical body could not hear it.

So that was my stillness for the day. It was peaceful. It was fulfilling. And it is helping me to understand that my Aunt Carol is in a better place.


  1. Very lovely, nicely said and wonderful thoughts. It makes me feel good that Carol meant a lot to you as she did to me. I am also comforted by knowing her struggles are over and she is perhaps starting up a game of bridge on another plane.

  2. Beautifully said, Jenny, and what a breakthrough experience for you on your spiritual journey. That experience probably wouldn't have happened if you weren't already leaning in this direction. You may call yourself an agnostic but you certainly seem to be in tune with some higher power and the power of the universe.

  3. What a lovely meditation on your Aunt Carol! I think you felt her passing.