The Coach is In…

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever; you just have to live.”  – Natalie Babbitt


The Life We Live

I have two male friends who are dying. Both have dementia. When you love someone, have known them in their vitality and in their person for a long time, it is difficult to watch what feels like the dismantling of the essence of who they were. It is equally difficult, and harder, to watch the women who have loved them, as their spouse, go through this experience.

This ‘experience’ is life. There is part of life that is gut wrenching. This is one of those. Even from a distance as their friend, you hear the incredibly sad stories of where each man is physically and/or mentally on any given day, and you witness the pieces of their life slipping away. I want to stop it, to grab those pieces and somehow reattach them to their ‘rightful’ owner. But I know that I cannot.

The pain I feel is about loss. For them, for their wives, for their friends. Loss of the time we hoped we would have. A sense of loss for them, that their time is on a path to be shorter than what it might have been. And loss that I, and others, will not enjoy their company as we once did.

Yet, in that loss there are wonderful memories of the bond and the moments when ‘all was right with the world.’ I’ve shared multiple ‘good times’ with these gentlemen. I don’t want those times to end, but I will also reach a point, if I haven’t, when the cruelty of the disease will have me wanting them to let go. This is particularly true when I look into the eyes of their wives.

My friends remind me of my own mortality. This doesn’t always register until I am reminded (i.e., a friend or loved one becomes ill). It begs the question for me, “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?” When I was much younger the question was simple, yet difficult, “What do I want to do with my life?” When I was in college asking that question, I had glimpses of my ‘purpose,’ but most of the question appeared to be filled with the vast unknown. Slowly, as the path became brighter, and I began to understand why I was here and who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.

I know, as I witness my two friends and their disease, that I have less time in front of me than behind me. I also know that living out my purpose remains what it has always been – to encourage and to help others find the best version of themselves. I also know that all of us have a journey to share about the loss of a loved one, a close associate, a friend. These shared experiences, and many others, remind us that “we are all in this together.” You/I/we would think that connectedness would have us cooperate more, respect more, collaborate more, and love better. The fact that we don’t is another sense of loss I have.

My two friends serve as a reminder to remember the brevity of life. For me that means that as I get older, I want to leave fewer things unsaid. To invest in what and who is most important. It is easy to get sidetracked by all the ‘noise’ and ‘busyness’ in my life. Being aware daily of the journey my two friends are on helps me to work on quieting the noise and the busyness in favor of more time to reflect, more time to focus on what I am here to be, here to do, and with whom.

As you/I/we travel into 2022, is there one thing that you want to be that you aren’t; one thing that you could do that would contribute to the betterment of yourself, your family, your friends, or a stranger? What might that be?

I apologize that this post isn’t more ‘uplifting’ as we head into the new year…yet, I don’t apologize because this is our life at any given moment or season. There is a lot of gratitude for the who and the what that are in my life. At the very moment that I am celebrating those things, I am also holding the pain of life when it isn’t celebratory. I celebrate it all, it is just that some things are naturally more joyful and some things more painful. Learning to hold them together has taught me much – much about the paradox of life (i.e., good and bad, pain and joy, celebration and sorrow, etc.) and that holding the opposites together is life. It is the life we live.

Be well. May 2022 be your best year yet. Don’t worry, you will see the optimist return in 2022, because that is who I am.

Toward a better you…


P.S. I was finishing my editing when my daughter arrived with my 7-week-old grandson. The joy of new life amid sorrow. And so it is…the life we live.