When I watched the video of Randy Pausch, a 46-year-old computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, delivering his last lecture ever, I was in awe. Here is this man not much older than I am who is quickly dying and yet he’s doing so with such tremendous grace and insight, you only feel sorry for him for about sixty seconds. Before his lecture is over its evident that if you feel any sadness at all, it should be reserved for those he’ll leave behind.
This author suggested we’d all benefit if we took some time to reflect on our own lives by writing One Last Blog Post.
I couldn't agree more.
The best moments of my life have been what some might think are the smallest ones.
The feeling of my then four-year-old daughter holding my hand from the back seat of the car has been burned in my brain now for almost twenty-years. It didn’t matter to her that to hold her hand I had to twist uncomfortably around in my front seat belt to do it. All that mattered was that she and I were holding hands. Every time we’d get in the car to go anywhere regardless of the distance, my little girl would reach for me and those sweet little fingers would hold on tight.
I love that memory and I know for sure that no matter how old I get, I can always go back there in my mind and hold my baby girls tiny fingers any time I want.
When my son was born, there were problems at his birth. For a few tense days, we weren’t sure what was going to happen. He was tough even then and before I knew it, we were on our way home. I had brushed his super blonde hair to one side and dressed him in the outfit his Dad had picked out and as we left the hospital, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He looked like such a little man. I remember thinking that this child was going to be somebody important. I felt like I had given birth to a scientist who would cure something awful or to the one person on Earth who could end world hunger. I really did.
I still feel that way. I tell him all the time he has a special purpose and the best thing is he believes it himself. I feel very lucky to be the woman God chose to bring him here.
There have been plenty of rough roads in my life and for the most part, my mental illness was the gravel. In the same way that people always understand their eyes are blue, I always understood my brain wasn’t normal. For many, many years, I felt like breathing in and out was too hard and many, many times, I tried to stop doing that.
Looking back, I know that I never really wanted to die. I just wanted my brain to be quiet. I wanted people to stop being mean to me. I belly crawled through my life, ears laid back like a whipped dog. If someone told me I wasn’t worth the bullet it would take to kill me, I agreed with them. If someone felt I deserved to be choked or thrown to the floor or back handed, I was like a losing boxer whose only hope was the good sense to stay down.
I have been spit on, laughed at, called names, kicked and used as a sexual crash test dummy and all the while, I never knew I could have made it stop any time I wanted.
I had absolutely no idea that I alone had the power over all of it and that how unhappy I was had nothing to do with my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or abusive men. It had to do with how much of my power I was willing to hand over to whomever or whatever demanded it.
I think if I have any wisdom at all to leave behind, it’s that each of us is in control even during those times we feel like someone or something else is calling all the shots. No matter how nasty the situation, no matter how hopeless it seems, no matter how weak we feel, we’re still running our own show. Our ability to make choices is more than powerful. It’s spiritual.
And finally, when my time here is up and I am on to find out whatever comes next, my hope is that a whole lot of people will hear someone say, “She loved you”. When my Grandmother died and I felt like I’d lost the only person on Earth who thought I was something special, countless people said to me again and again, “She sure did love you.” That’s brought me great comfort over the years and I’ve come to think that in the end, how much I loved is how I want to be judged.
I used to hold on tight to those three words (I love you) and other than to my children, I could barely get them out to anyone else. Now I say I love you as often as I feel love, which is a lot. It makes me happy and if it makes someone else uncomfortable, they’ll just have to steer clear of me in Wal-Mart or risk getting hit on the head with my giant “I love you” wand.
So that’s it then. My “One Last Blog Post”. Where’s yours?
Copyright © 2004-2007, Sherri Bailey
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