May 31, 2012

Ode to our Chuck.

The service for Chuck today was perfect.  I imagined him scoffing at all the sentimentality, and secretly loving every minute.  I have always known my sense of humor, sarcasm and defiance came from him.  And I thank him and love him for that. 

Here is the speech I gave: 

On Saturday the weather suddenly changed.   It went from feeling like summer to being so cold I needed my winter parka.  That night, the wind was particularly loud.  I wouldn't call it eerie, but somehow appropriate.  Something was happening here and the universe was responding.  Narrating. 

Time was frozen.  It was absolutely stopped.  The night seemed endless as we sat by Chucks bedside.  Around 1 am I decided it would be best to go home and sleep so I could come back rested in the morning for another long day of this surreal waiting game.
Sunday morning, May 27 2012 things felt…different.  We made it through the limbo of last night.  It was sunny.  The weather continued to narrate this story.  I felt a stronger sense of peace.  Something had transpired.  And time had started to speed up again.

I was out the door on my way to Farah’s house as fast as I could.  In the few minutes it took me to get to her house, Chuck made his exit from this life. 

My dad waiting outside to tell me he was gone is something I’ll never forget.

And this is the part of the story where my world, and my families, cracks open and everyone is instantly changed.  It is exactly like they say it will be, and completely different at the same time.

When I was inside, I looked at him.  

Wait.  Wait a minute.  

The spiritual scientist in me had been as matter of fact as I could be up until this point.  I was worried about one person losing a father, another a brother, or a son, but wait.  Wait a minute.  That's MY UNCLE.  That's MY Uncle Chuck.
Every emotion that came over me after that was not in any way, shape or form something that I expected to feel.  The scientific mind in me wants to protect me so hard that it forgets to talk to my heart on the biggest matters sometimes.  It’s my defense mechanism for when it’s going to be more than I can bear.

I left last night.  I left.  I left.  I left.  How would I ever forgive myself? And how could this happen in the minutes it took me to drive over? There was my Chuck.  My Chuck.  

There, but no longer there.  That was so profound I don't know if I can put into words what that experience was.  All I wanted to do was for him to wake up for a minute so that I could have a final conversation.  

Wait.  Wait a minute.  I didn't know last night was the last night of his life.  I didn't know the last time I saw him at his apartment would be the last time he'd be at his apartment.  Or at the hospital.  Or the last time we were in a car together on the way to a doctor appointment.  On a particular day where I didn't want to be there and wasn't even being pleasant.  Let me just have one more minute.  To bring you another donut and chocolate milk.  To take my dog to visit you.  To play a prank on you.  To answer the phone when you call instead of sending it to voicemail. 

There is no such thing as being prepared for a goodbye.  There is no such thing as being ready.  It doesn’t matter if someone is sick and you know it’s coming.  There is no moment you’re ready to walk out of the room, knowing it’s the last time you’re going to see someone.  That kind of closure, that kind of readiness does not exist. 

I wanted to crawl onto the bed, where he looked so cozy and somehow at home and just snuggle next to him. 

What a day.  What a day, seeing the reactions of my family.

The word that had been creeping up on me the last few nights and was now taking hold was “unbearable”.  Losing a loved on is nothing short of unbearable.  The little circle of my family, the family I have been closest too and have grown up with, at times more like siblings than aunts or unlces, was now broken.  Forever changed. 

Now the world would be seen through a new filter. 

I’ll never forget that day.  "The day of impossible goodbyes".  The day my families collective heart was broken. 

The van and men who picked up our Chuck driving away.  There he went.  They took our Chuck.  Our Chuck.  You want to run down the street screaming after them to bring him back in hopes that it’s not real and he’ll wake up. 

When the bed was empty, it still was not real.  He was at home.  He’ll call.  We’ll see him at Christmas. 

We talked about what a presence he is.  So funny.  So sarcastic.  So loud.  So big.  Larger than life.  One of a kind.  That was Chuck. 

As I looked at him that Sunday, what I was seeing was no longer that.  It was the carrier that had housed all of that for the last 60 years. 

I was so profoundly reminded that we are not our bodies at all.  They are simply the vessel that takes our spirits, or essence, through life.  How strong AND weak our physical bodies are at the same time. 

Be good to them, for they are perishable and are merely on loan while we’re here for a short visit on earth.  

There was his watch, his glasses.  This particularly struck me.  My brain had a hard time processing that one minute you need those things, then next you don’t. 

Now what do you do with those things? What becomes of things?

I was struck with the importance of detachment.  Detach from thinking you are only your physical self.  Detach from things.  Things don’t matter.  Simplify. 

I have always believed we are here to be each others teachers.  That everything happens for a reason and that all is unfolding exactly as it should…so what happens now.  What do we take from such pain?

Right now, I think it is to remind ourselves to live the life we truly want.  Not in an unrealistic way, but to be conscious that we are where we want to be or striving toward it.  To always follow your heart. 

Since there is no way to know when you’ll be faced with a goodbye.  That there is no such thing as being ready.  But we can try to make our relationships meaningful for when that time does come.  Make time for the people you love and who love you.  Make sure you not only show them love, but tell them also.  Make sure you invest in what matters to you.  

Respond to every call that excites your spirit. 

And gently remind yourself of patience and compassion for others.  You never know the impact you’re having or will have on someone else’s life and what you are teaching them.

And we are forever changed because we got to know Chuck.  Because he was in our lives. 

And when it feels like we’ll never go back to normal... it’s because we wont.  And aren’t we lucky? Aren’t we lucky we had the privilege of having that time with Chuck?

From "The Life of Pi" by Yann Martel

What a terrible thing it is to botch a farewell. I am a person who believes in form, in the harmony of order. Where we can, we must give things a meaningful shape

It's important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.

Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart. I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. The pain is like an axe that chops my heart.

You are so loved, Uncle Chuck.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Surrounded by loving family our most precious, handsome son, brother, father, uncle and friend Charles B. Bowden (Chuck) passed from this life into eternity May 27, 2012. He now resides in God's Heaven. 

Chuck was born in Murray, Utah on November 9, 1951 to Blaine and Angela Bowden. He was raised in Salt Lake City and graduated from Granite High School in 1970. He married Patti Anderson in September 1972 (later divorced). In junior high Chuck excelled in volleyball and basketball and was a record setting high jumper. While at Granite High he again excelled in football and baseball. Baseball was his first passion and remained that way. Chuck was a member of the Granite Legion and Baseball 1969 State Champion team. He was co-captain of the baseball team that won the State Baseball Championship in 1970. He was selected American Legion All State Centerfield in 1970. Chuck loved hunting and fishing, the Quaky Aspen trees and the mountains. He also loved old western and war movies. Chuck's daughter Lacey (Pumpkin Pie) was his pride and joy. He loved her with all his heart. 

Chuck leaves behind his parents, daughter Lacey, brother Larry (Margo), sister Lauren (Claude), sister Farah (Bryon), sister Dyana (Jay), nieces Deena (Dave), Shannon, Lili and Ondrea. Nephews Griffin and Jude, special friend Anna Weidauer. We want to thank the Shock/Trauma Unit at IMC Hospital and the Intermountain Homecare Hospice staff who took such wonderful care of our Chuck. And a special thank you to Pastor Ken Hornok and his wife Marcia for their loyalty, love and prayers through this difficult time. Funeral services to be held Thursday, May 31st at Jenkins-Soffe Mortuary, 1007 West South Jordan Parkway, South Jordan, Utah at 12:00 pm.
Okay Chuck, now that you're an "Angel in the Outfield" PLAY BALL!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

May 15, 2012

Let me catch you up!

First of all, I hate that my poetry month project was abandoned before the month was up! I was very much looking forward to posting many more favorites and then blogspot up and changed their layout and every time I had a poem copied/pasted into a new entry here and pushed publish, it came out in a jumble. Things got busy, I didn't have time to look and see how to fix it. Here I am giving another entry a try w/out having copied and pasted so we'll see what happens when it's posted. I don't find this new layout better. :(

 Anyway. So many things are happening at once. Good, bad, you name it. The words that keep knocking are transformation and changes. I feel a new chapter coming. I've been transforming so much internally the last year and I feel a big shift just around the corner. I have always felt I work hard but I know I can work even harder. I know I can push myself more and take more on and I don't have to be stressed or feel overwhelmed. I can accept and allow. I can breathe through it and enjoy all that comes. Lately it's occurred to me that what I need right now to feel happy and more satisfied is to follow a code I've made for myself. It is to

1.) Say yes to everything
2.) Follow through with every commitment
3.) Be impeccable with my word
4.) Get involved

This includes staying as busy as possible. Busy is better. Throwing myself into situations I might not normally have said yes to. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Going to an event solo if needed. Meeting new people. Learning from them. Expanding. We are only human and we don't always practice what we preach. Sometimes we think we do, but if we really take a minute and look inside we see that we aren't living up to the way we'd really like, or what we might demand of others. This is something that resonated big time:

You either do or you don't. It's that simple. Not that the process is easy to get to where you need to be, but it starts with taking control. Taking action. Or not. I know I can be a better me. And this is not only spiritually, emotionally and in my actions but also physically. It's time to stop eating like a five year old and cultivate some eating habits that will make me feel better in every sense. I need actual nutrition I need to find what feels right as far as how much and how often. I need to cut out pizza and dairy and try to put an end to my stomach aches. I need to learn more and form new habits.

 Right now as I'm in this time of transformation I see everything differently. What I've learned in the last year has made me see the world through a new filter. This is mainly due to my New Age spiritual journey that's only just begun. I've never felt so at peace and so aware of what is and what could be true for me.

 I am also in the midst of another strange time with my family. I have no brothers and sisters. I grew up very close to my parents and my moms side of the family. Her two brothers and her two sisters, my aunts and uncles, were around all the time. Now one of my uncles lays in a hospital bed, and all my family is at the hospital until the wee hours and back at it the next day. It is the strange, touching, sad, loving and confusing to see my mom so unwilling to leave her big brothers bedside. It is a lot to process. What family means. What it will mean to lose someone and experience that grief for the first time. How you feel not only for the person in the bed, but for how your mother will cope. How his only daughter will cope. What lesson is to be learned from this. How this will impact each of those people at the hospital in that room. Waiting.

 I look around the room and think about how much tragedy seems to have befallen more of these family members than not. How it certainly didn't start that way. But how so many of them had control over directions their life took and seemed to give up. How they still have control and it's never to late to change direction. Wondering if this is the time when shifts are made for them as well? I stand, I observe. Half of me wants to run away and get away from it all. The other half wants to be there.

 I'm still sifting through my feelings. What I do know, is the first night I was there in the hospital I came across a quote when I got home that falls in line with what I believe to be true and brought me comfort. I have different beliefs than my family and I know we find what brings us the most comfort and feels right. It is our own individual path to follow and I'm glad they have pastors and prayers that bring that to them.

I've also been thinking a lot about detachment.

1.) Detaching from the ego.  "Your body was not created to bear the burden of your over attachment to it, but was created as a container for the light of your spirit."

2.) Detaching from others.  Deepak Chopra's advice on what to do when your love is not returned.  "Don't stop loving, ever.  But detach".  Those words have been on repeat for me.

Anyway, this is what I wanted to post in terms of my family:

 “You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every bit of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world.

You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got. And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you.

And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever. And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it.

And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives. And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time.

You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen." - Aaron Freeman