Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Death Comes in Threes

I remember, as a child, older relatives saying "Death comes in threes." I did not think too much of it then, but, now that I am an adult (more or less!), it increasingly seems that this is true.

Over the past month, three precious people have passed away before they had a chance to get old. One of them was a wife and mother who enjoyed life and the people around her. One was a sweet gentleman who was in pain for many years, but even when he was home bound, reached out to others by way of encouraging cards. The last was a woman who, when I knew her, lived life at a frantic pace. She wanted to make a lot of money and retire early. I was in no position to say this to her, but I always wished that she would stop and smell the roses a little. Just in case. I am not sure exactly how old she was when she passed away recently, but I know that she was several years younger than me. Her death is especially sad to me, because I am not sure she ever really LIVED life.

Every day, I see friends and acquaintances living these frantically busy lives. They simply don't seem to know how to slow down and enjoy life. They use busyness like some people use drugs and alcohol. They stay busy to avoid or numb what is going on or has gone on in their lives.

My prayer is that my friends don't die before they have lived.

Really lived.




Friday, January 03, 2014

Pennie

I met first met Pennie in 1998 when I began an internship at Warren-Yazoo Mental Health. I had never had a real "job" like this. I had worked in a preschool, a lollipop shop, waitressed,  given voice lessons, relief dispatched for a police department and answered the Mississippi College switchboard. But none of this prepared me for the Mental Health!

I came to this job exhausted and fragile from commuting to Monroe daily for 3 years, dealing with multiple untimely deaths of friends to suicide and AIDS (and the lack of compassion for these deaths by other "friends", which was almost as wounding), and the beginnings of some serious health issues. Then, I met Pennie. And she said something to me that she may not even remember and people who know me now may find hard to believe. "You are the most negative person I have ever met!"

Those words stopped me in my tracks. I knew I had to change my outlook. And, I did.

Pennie was the resident "nut." Leave the office for lunch and there was no telling what prank she might have pulled while I was out. A stuffed squirrel was a particular favorite and there was no telling where it might be and what it might be doing at any given time. He might be holding a sign containing a funny poem or threatening to jump from the top of my bookcase. But, when I was overwhelmed, I could go in her office, shut the door, and she would help me gain perspective over the situation. Pennie was and is an amazing counselor.

During our time at the Mental Health, Pennie also had her challenges. Betrayal, divorce, and a very difficult pregnancy got her down for a while. But, Pennie always had a funny quip and an unquenchable spirit despite everything.

We both eventually left the Mental Health. Me, to deal with health issues and Pennie to pursue new opportunities in Texas. But, we never lost touch.

Now, Pennie is facing a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. She should know for sure in a few days. I am praying without ceasing that she will be able to get a clear diagnosis and successful, stabilizing treatment. She has a husband and a challenging, funny almost 12 year old to finishing raising.

And I need my "Lucky Pennie."