Wednesday, October 7, 2015
11:17 AM. Monday. October 7. 2002. Fitting that she would share his final heartbeat, the bridge for his pathway to eternity. For it was she who said 10 hours before, "Do what's best for you Joshie." Pure wisdom from the heart and lips of an 11 year old sister, grasping an inkling of the finality of a life so precious to her. It was she who ushered him into Eternity.
And now, as I sit writing, 11:00 AM. Wednesday. October 7, 2015, watching my iPhone clock to pay homage to an instant soon to arrive, I wonder what can this moment offer to me that I can share with the living? It always comes down to LOVE. The essence of life, its nectar. The symbolic beauty of the heart, transcending any physical description or purpose. Love, for a person, for a flower, for a moment in time, for a memory, for one's Self, for LIFE.
But how do you find hope in the darkness, a spark of Light, when the supreme challenges of life pull you into an abyss? There must be a grain of love in a morsel of hope. That spark, all it takes to ignite, pulling us out of the cave and into the warmth of a new day, a new moment. A way back to the Light in love.
11:10 I am sitting outside on the patio, writing this passage in my journal ---checking my iPhone for the time to make sure I am attentive to 11:17---when gardeners come noisily on lawnmowers and by foot, gasoline fumes spewing towards me. Disappointed to leave my peace in the crisp fall air and sunlit expanse of garden and lawn, I surrender and go inside, closing the patio door to prevent the odor from entering.
Where do I go as 11:17 approaches? I am beckoned to go to the kitchen where the Yartzeit candle flickers on the counter.
11:16 AM I sit close. I hover over the candle. Timing is everything. Paying attention to cues allows us to experience moments like this, moments we may otherwise have missed. As if he invoked me to come stare at this candle, at this moment, to honor our connection & our Faith.
11:17 AM. October 7, 2015 arrives and I observe Josh’s Yartzeit candle. A moment of silence, of inactivity.
11:19 AM. I return to my pen, having witnessed the flickering on the wick, flame swaying freely, ignited in the Age Old Judaic tradition to honor the death of a loved one. I felt Josh, I felt his Light in every cell of my Being, knowing he's never far, just a breath, a heartbeat away.
So do I count 365 days until the next 11:17 AM on October 7? No. I continue in LIFE, making the most of each moment, each day. Being PRESENT. Honoring memories. Building to the future. Living NOW.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
With Love and Light, Nancy………
PS And please visit Intent Blog for inspirational messages from many contributors. I am grateful to be an Intent Blogger.
Who better to suggest how to celebrate life than one for whom life is no longer on this earth but whose perspective is eternal. And so it was that Ways to Celebrate Life came to be. My son Josh was struck by a car and killed at age 15 ½ in 2002. My profound grief was tempered by a blessing. Josh began to communicate to me, often through my pen, as he did before his 17th birthday on April 16, 2004. He gave me 17 Ways to Celebrate Life as a gift to share. For his earthly birthdays that followed, he offered an additional “way” to celebrate life. In honor of Josh, I now share 21 Ways to Celebrate Life with you….
- Smile. Smiling makes you and those around you feel good. If you don’t feel good, a smile can trick your brain into feeling better.
- Eat ice cream.
- Run on the beach. If you can’t physically do this, use your imagination.
- Call someone who is ill or lonely. Listen to their story. Take the time. Tell them your story, if they ask.
- Listen to music that touches your heart and soul.
- Sing in the shower, or out loud if you are comfortable.
- Visit the grave of a loved one and celebrate your continued BREATH. And tell your loved one what’s on your mind.
- Play with a dog.
- Thank yourself for putting up with all the things about yourself that drive you nuts! Activate your sense of humor!
- Apologize to someone you have wronged in any way.
- Take a day, or even a few hours, “off” to do something you always want to do but never take the time to do.
- Eat something you never indulge in (unless allergic!) and savor every bite….slowly. No guilt permitted!
- Re-watch your favorite funny or happy movie in your most comfortable clothes.
- Make plans with 2 friends that you are crazy about but never see…near or far away.
- Go outdoors to a natural setting. Sit. Close your eyes. Listen to the world. It’s all an extension of you! Your breath connects you intrinsically to the world.
- Laugh. Do something fun or silly that evokes laughter. It has been said that laughter is God’s sunshine.
- Place this list in an envelope and revisit it periodically to see how you are celebrating YOURSELF! If you are good to yourself, you can be much better to those around you.
- Go to your heart and make all your decisions from there; and all will be well.
- Follow the path that matters.
- Believe and feel the change you want to see and you will BE the change you envision.
- ....Yet you must know that in the end, it is LOVE’s garden you must tend.
I hope Josh’s 21 Ways to Celebrate Life will resonate for you, bringing inspiration and joy. In this Light, I hope to perpetuate ways to celebrate life today, tomorrow and always. The list is now yours to use and to share. With love from Josh and his Mom, happy celebrating! ♥
Sunday, October 7, 2012
by Nancy H. Rothstein
Honoring Josh, 10 years later
See. While your eyes are open.
Hear. While your ears can receive.
Listen. While someone speaks to you.
Touch. While your nerves can sense.
Smell. While the roses are in bloom.
Feel. While your heart still beats.
Live. While your breath continues.
Love. While you have the opportunity.
Laugh. While your Spirit beckons.
Be. While the moment is...right NOW.
Copyright, (C) Nancy H. Rothstein, 2012.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Quarter century markers have a certain weight carried with them; a recognition that much has come before to get to 25 and that there is much to follow before the half century marker arrives.
April 16 marks what would have been or what is, depending on your perspective, Josh’s 25th birthday. Since he left this world at age 15 ½ in October 2002, the number associated with his “missed” birthdays did not have a particular poignancy, other than 16 and 21(these are birthday markers in our culture for everything from driver’s licenses to an ID that allows you to legally consume alcohol and presents you as an “adult”). Yet, 25 evokes a feeling I can’t quite put my finger on, yet I know it is there and I know I am struck by the power of this number.
What could I do with it? What could I do for Josh? He gave us 21 Ways to Celebrate Life (see previous posts). So, it hit me last night, I could offer a stream of consciousness list of 25 CHOICES that Lead to Happiness. Isn’t that something we all seek, amidst the challenges that life presents and the joys which we so welcome?
So, in honor of Josh I share with you 25 CHOICES that Lead to Happiness. And please add or substitute what resonates for YOU about the choices you make that lead to your happiness, as well as for those around you!
1. Forgive yourself...to be gentle to your heart and Spirit.
3. Get good SLEEP every night.
4. Eat healthy. Splurge periodically!
5. Keep your body fit and agile.
6. Be kind to strangers you encounter.
7. Express GRATITUDE...constantly....for your blessings.
8. Prayer. If you feel God is distant, it isn't God who moved.
9. Meditation. The resulting stillness is the portal to reaching your inner peace and connecting to the Universe, the source of infinite possibilities.
10. Listen to the voice of your HEART.
11. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts....or with expressions of gratitude for things big and small.
12. When someone is mean to you or causing you stress, shoot back at them with love as your ammunition...silently or aloud. Sounds impossible? Try it. Success comes with practice and a commitment to overcoming anger and expectations.
13. HAVE FAITH!
14. Look at challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.
15. Accept the moment as it is.
16. Vision what you want to see in your life rather than focusing on what you want to go away. Your thoughts have energy and attract more of what you're thinking about.
17. Ask for HELP when you need it. We cannot function alone in this world.
18. Give money to people in need, without judgment.
19. Do things that are FUN...regularly. Be playful!
20. Have and take care of at least one plant in your home.
21. Listen to your inner voice, the one that says, "Don't say that to him/her." Or, "I need to go to bed now; I'm exhausted!"
22. Verbally tell those you love that you love them.
23. Take breaks from technology. For a day a week or for a few hours each day....not including when you are asleep. And shut off your devices at least one hour before bed. (Advice from The Sleep Ambassador®)
24. Look in the mirror and say, "I LOVE YOU" 100 times every day. When you go beyond believing this to KNOWING it, reduce the number of repetitions. If you are already there, you are most fortunate!
25. Add your own choices to the list, whatever leads to YOUR happiness!
Wishing you an abundance of happiness!
With love, Nancy
Friday, October 7, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
For those of us who observed 9-11 and the anguish of others....albeit overcome as well with a sense of communal grief...what have we learned over these past 10 years? Has our observation of acts of terror and the example set by survivors, heroes who risked their lives to save others and the families who have marched forward with dignity and grace changed our behavior? Changed our views? About life? About death?
Are we more grateful for our blessings? Are we more appreciative about life? Do we LIVE more fully? Are we more loving to our families and beyond? Can we be in the present where there may be nothing to fear? Can we heal? Is there hope? Have we become more compassionate to those in need, of a hug or a hand? We are all in this together while we are alive....and even thereafter.
Has our perspective on death changed? As humans, when faced with death of a loved one, we can sink into an abyss. That is sometimes the only place to go at first. But what lifts us from sinking further? From the quicksand of pain into which we can be disappear? It is love. It is hope. It is faith. It is a connection to those who have left us here. It is knowing that a Soul never dies. It is having faith that maybe, just maybe there is more than here. It is knowing that the horror or pain that the loved one had to endure is now over. That they are at peace. That they never have to live the horror or pain again...if that was the nature of their death. Yet, for all who die.....and each of us will....we leave the physical realm that we know as life. They are just a breath, a heartbeat away.....and oh so close. Believing this possiblity is a steppingstone to knowing this, to connecting to a loved one who has passed on.....and to taking the trauma out of the grief.
Unexpected and tragic loss is tremendously challenging. People face this throughout the world, loved ones killed daily in war, in violence and in accidents. Yet, most of these deaths are far from the press and from the eyes and ears of the public. So, when you say a prayer for those who died because of 9-11, add in a spark of recognition for those who also left this world...and their loved ones...without our knowing about them. They share the infinity of eternity.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
I am not sure where my son Josh was in Harry Potter's journey when it ended for him. I do know he was enraptured with the tale. Josh was struck by a car and killed at age 15 in 2002. Yet he left a profound legacy about living life fully and about facing death, in many ways parallel to Harry's legacy.
As the Harry Potter epic comes to a close with the soon to be released last film, for those of us who were enraptured by Harry and Co.....and even for those who were not engaged in the magic....you have to wonder, WHAT'S BEYOND THE WAND? Fortunately the tale of Harry Potter will continue its magic for mere muggles for a long time to come. J. K. Rowling bestowed a gift upon the world, a treasure of insights about the journey we call life.
So, what is BEYOND THE WAND? It ALL comes down to one word. Yet, each of must find what is most important to us in this world and likely in any world.
In this light, I thought it timely to share an excerpt of Beyond the Wand, a chapter from my forthcoming book, Rising in the Mourning: Embracing Life from Loss.
BEYOND THE WAND
Author’s Note: July 31, 2007. I knew I had to wait until I completed Harry, until I reached the end of the epic. And so I did. My son Josh never had the opportunity to complete Harry’s journey. I can’t recall where he left off when he left us. Yet, I carried him with me to the end. And now I carry you with me as I continue my tale….
As I completed the epic of seven books, tears streamed down the skin of my checks. I felt loss alongside peace. Even happy endings are often coupled with grief.
While Josh never got to read the last of the Harry Potter epic, in some ways he lived it. Death was always at his door were he to have eaten a peanut, a nut or a shrimp. He needed a wand to curtail the opening of death’s door, an earthly wand in the form of an Epi Pen……its magic keeping him in our midst seven times.
Like Harry, Josh knew that death was a looming possibility. Without protection it could become a reality. Did his near encounters with death bring him more fully into life? Looking back, I know they did. Harry had the opportunity to contemplate and even savor life when its end seemed imminent. Josh’s final encroachment upon death gave no warnings the last time it came. There was no wand to save him from the car that struck him….so improbable an occurrence on a suburban sidewalk on a Sunday afternoon.
So, what would Josh have thought had he been here for more of Harry’s journey? What would he wish to convey to us now? Would he reflect on a story within Harry’s story about how humans are frightened of death? Is it leaving and losing those we love that frightens us most? Courageously, Josh fought fear in the face, triumphantly obliterating all but vigilance in his quest to become the master of his world. Like Harry, “his will to live had always been so much stronger than his fear of death.”
Must we experience near death through accident or illness to heighten our appreciation of our own beating hearts, as well as those of our fellows? Faced with dying, Harry contemplates: “Why had he never appreciated what a miracle he was, brain and nerve and bounding heart? It would all be gone….or at least, he would be gone from it.” Aside from our own brush with death, must we walk on the edge to embrace life with gentility, compassion and that most sought after emotion, love? Is there not a way to enrich our lives without having to meet, or even to fear, the shadow of death?
“Death was impatient.” J. K. wrote. Death can wait. Life is what is before you now. Are you breathing? Is your heart beating? Why let your mind hold you hostage from life and put you in the room of death’s contemplation? Harry’s deceased mentor, Dumbledore, tells him that “there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying.” Just read the newspaper or watch the news to get confirmation…..and find all the more reason to concentrate on the good things life has to offer.
In the end, Dumbledore goes on to tell Harry something Josh has taught me, “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.” And so it is with heartfelt gratitude that I thank J. K. Rowling and Harry for connecting me to a magical world Josh loved and for confirmation of what is most important in any world…..love. Embracing love is the challenge that awaits each of us beyond the wand.
*All quotes are from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling.
© 2011. Nancy H. Rothstein