I had lunch with my dear friend David Hilfiker yesterday. We talked about his recent diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease and the blog he has created: Watching The Lights Go Out: A Memoir From Inside Alzheimer's Disease. David is embracing what is happening in a way that is inspiring and, strangely, comforting; he is not depressed or upset about it; he views it as freeing him from expectations and obligations with which he burdened himself for all of his life.
And then I read Mariechild's reflection for today, February 9 -- "Women's Abundance." She says
"...we can each find a ritual that reminds us of the power of the bleeding time...Try placing a single red flower on your altar or desk during your bleeding time."
But I am past my bleeding time, and I imagine that many women reading this are also. How do we relate to this reflection?
I do have two thoughts.
One is that David's attitude toward Alzheimer's is instructive. I sense abundance in many things about him now: in his new-found ability for vulnerability with me and with others; in his joy at the ways the disease has freed him; in his learning to set aside the life-long assurance of possessing an amazing intellect in order to simply be with what is happening.
He teaches us that losing one expression of abundance does not mean we have lost all expression of abundance.
My second thought relates to my chronic pain. I am on disability. I can no longer do the work I love. I am not productive in the way we generally think of production: some days I barely get off the bed (I do insist on getting dressed; spending the day in pajamas is really too depressing and besides, I have a little dog). I have grown to accept these facts of my life. Acceptance has led to peace that is increasingly overlaid with a simple joy and which stays with me until I allow the doubts to assail me. What am I doing with my life? When will I get well and DO something? I contribute nothing to the world.
I had one of those moments this week, and I shared about it with David. He reminded me that when I worked with very vulnerable women (homeless women living with AIDS), I never considered them to be doing nothing or not contributing. He said that I would never think that way about them so why think that way about myself?
And so today the peaceful feeling I love, with its joy in what is, has returned to me. And I know that the abundance is in myself and in my loved ones, and in us all, regardless of our condition.
May we all find our own abundance, and may we set it free.
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Carol D. Marsh
- With a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree (Goucher College, August 2014), I am looking at a new phase in my life. From 1992 to 2009, I served as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House, a residence for homeless women living with AIDS. I left this position when Chronic Migraine Disease overtook my ability to do my job. Now I hope that a writing career will both accommodate the migraines and give me a creative, productive outlet. And soon, September 4, I will launch my Inkshares author page in a bid to hit the 1,000 pre-order goal in 90 days. The book I want to publish is "Nowhere Else I Want to Be," a memoir of ten of my years at Miriam's House.