This past year I have been learning to spend my time "in the moment". I have learned (and am still learning) to truly be mindful of what is occuring around and within me. The power of mindfulness is healing and transformative. I began reading about 20 years ago and thought I appreciated it. This year, upon reading "The Mindful Way Through Depression", I finally realized that my past understandings of the truth were simply shadows cast by my preconceptions blocking the light.

Platitudes such as "Live Every Moment As If Was Your Last" or "Act As If This Is The Last Time You Will See (fill in name) Ever Again" are commonly heard and may be thought of us as teachings in mindfulness. The way I see it, and experience bears me out, this is not the case. Mindfulness is seeing things the way they reallly are. These platitudes insert a construct into the moment that is not there and will act as a filter to our experience, blocking out what doesw not fit. Instead we should just be open to each experience for what it really is. We must be able to distinguish experience from thought, preconception, and gestalt.

Several years ago I went to visit my paternal grandmother after she had been moved to a nursing home. Though she no longer recognized me, she still greeted us with a smile and a hardy hello. She loved seeing my boys who were still in the young and cute stage. Since she no longer could remember who I am, I had to tell her that I was the oldest son of the oldest son and the story of who I was and the huge role she played. Talking as strangers she told me how much she missed her husband and how they use to go dancing when they were a young couple and the joy she had raising her family. When we left I was reminded of what a wonderful family I had come from and I hope she had been reminded that she had made an amazing contribution to the world.

After my mother had her 5th stroke I found myself thinking that it just the start of another battle in which my mother would surely be the victor. While that may sound rather cavalier, I honestly believed that soon my mom would home again with my dad as caretaker. So when I went in the hospital I felt comfortable there, my previous phobia of such places long-passed. The afternoon was spent with my mom and dad chit chatting and enjoying each other. With me there my dad was able to take breaks from his lengthy vigils. My mother, due to medication and exhaustion, was able to converse on a limited basis. Sometimes I would just hold her hand. While my dad was gone I was tellinng the nurse I had taken the train from Chicago to Kalamazoo. When the nurse said that should be a managable trip by car, I explained that "I am not allowed to drive that far by myself." When I asked my mom to confirm, she came out of a haze to nod quite vigorously. A classic Mom moment. When I left I kissed her on the forehead told her I loved her and that I would see her in a couple weeks.

In both cases I had no idea it was the last time I would see either beautiful woman. Looking back I do not regret not knowing or suspecting such was the case. I spent my time with each beautiful woman as I always had, learning from them and showing them love. If I had known that these had been last moments, this thought would have been pervasive and kept me from taking away all I could from the experience and offer. Doom would have shaded my eyes and denied me one last chance to experience these two women fully. Do I wish I had the chance for a final goodbye?No. I am happy that I had a chance for a final hello.

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