Wisdom Comes Suddenly

The Sacred Now

January 24th, 2016 · 4 Comments

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As per my tradition while mourning, all pictures are from times spent hiking. Nature soothes a hurting heart.

I know, I know. We were rolling about in post-Christmas bliss, cleaning out leftovers and taking down ornaments, and you were expecting my final piece about the hostess tackle boxes I crafted. I had a funny picture of me riding Kelly’s new bike around the 1st floor at midnight on Christmas Eve, cookie in mouth, goofy expression plastered across my face…my post was gonna be ALL THAT, my friends. But life has it own “all that” ideas, doesn’t it? All that and more, as it turns out.

Greg’s friend died, and she was too young, and this past week has been…so very hard (to put the hard quite simply).

We’ve been sad. We’ve been quietly and gently processing. We’ve been loudly and jaggedly processing. We’ve been napping, because hard things make us tired. We’ve been cranky with each other. We’ve been kind to each other. We’ve been distant. We’ve been close. We’ve questioned God’s timing. We’ve praised God for allowing us to help with her final days. We’ve… once again (actually 4th again, if you’re beginning to wonder how many funerals I’ve attended since fall)…come face to face with the harsh reality that life on earth is an extraordinarily temporary gig. But mostly, we’ve spent our time cherishing her legacy with her friends and family.

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And her legacy is LONG…very, very long. In the short time I knew Denver Hutt, and although she was 15 years my junior, she taught me things which have forever changed me (again, she was a friend of Greg’s with a large community of close friends…I am just an acquaintance who turned into one of her many helper-friends in her last week). It’s a rare gift to have our lives so profoundly affected by people as bold and as wise as Denver. I witnessed first hand a young woman who didn’t complain, even while in the midst of profound suffering. I witnessed her treat nurses and doctors with a graciousness I could never muster in the face of certain death. Even while on the fringes of consciousness, she communicated to those around her LOVE. Big love. PATIENCE. Big patience. Thoughtful decision-making. Big wisdom. And BRAVERY. Big, big bravery.

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Because there was no time remaining, Denver, her family, her friends and I, were thrown into a “Sacred Now”. We could only exist in the moment at hand, and hold onto each minute as a treasure. There were no wasted words. There was no pretense. We were both helpless and courageous, as we attempted to fill the air around her with love. I watched her friends muster a maturity so many in our society would like to believe isn’t present in “the younger folks”. Oh gracious…the false caricatures we paint and assign to our generational labels. The “younger people” who graduated from college in the depth of the Recession, and therefore have career resilience beyond their years. People who know security and possessions are a mirage, and live their lives by their values instead. Say what you wish about the Millennials, but as a disgruntled X’er raised by divorced Baby Boomers, I have yet to meet a Millennial I don’t like.

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Their intense focus on the quality of their connections with people and to their community is inspiring. Denver was a phenomenal human, but she equally surrounded herself with phenomenal people. And as we sat in the quiet night, I asked of their stories. Such divine moments we shared, because as time slips away, the Sacred Now grows in its vividness. We love to mark the joy of birth, and it’s right to do so. It’s a blessing. But witnessing someone’s battle is a blessing as well. We learn arcane things which shape us into better people. We grab onto the best humanity has to offer, and allow it to seep into every crevice of our consciousness. We discover the future is a myth, and what we really have is each other; seeing, loving, and knowing one another.

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Denver’s brother so eloquently shared at her Celebration of Life, “Let us not say things such as ‘All things happen for a reason’, and therefore absolve ourselves of any responsibility in drawing meaning from her death.” I clung to those words, as they so succinctly summarized all I’ve been trying to take away from this tragedy. I WANT to be changed by the legacy of someone with so much to offer. Here is what I know:

(1) Denver didn’t whine. Whining isn’t something adults should do. If Denver didn’t bellyache about end stage cancer in her 20’s, I can tough out my ridiculously dumb medical drama. Dumb, I tell you. Really, really dumb. Don’t question me on this; I’m a nurse. We are sworn to our nursing categories: (1) You made that up, you histrionic bastard. (2) It’s a cold. Take some Nyquil and go to bed. (3) Stop giving the entire city your dumb cold. Unless you are saving the world, drink some WATER and go to bed. (4) Dumb. Irritating and persistent, but dumb.(5) Um? You should get that looked at. (6) Crap, that might be a thing. (7) Oh no. Officially a thing. This shit calls for pie. (8) Aw, HELL NO. (9) How can I help you with comfort? It’s time to get real and get things done. No more saying stupid things stitched on pillows, as we are nearing the Sacred Now. (10) “Dear Lord, reveal to me how I may of be of use walking your child home. And please, please, please…don’t let me say anything dumb.” Seriously…I know that’s why we all fear going near dying friends. We fear we’ll say something dumb. Our friends NEED us in their most vulnerable moments, and all we can think of us is our own, egocentric fear about saying something stupid. Humans are, in fact, rather obtuse. You’d think we’d get used to this.

(2) Denver made everyone in her presence feel that he/she was the only person on the planet, and she absorbed and reflected her loves’ goals and dreams. She was the world’s greatest cheerleader and had a special talent for lighting a person’s path towards their heart’s desire. This was not something she did for the special few. This was something she did for the entire city in which she lived. How often will you read multiple news stories about a 28 year old losing a battle to cancer, and journalists are able to elucidate the massive hole left in the commerce of a large city? Denver’s loss is Indianapolis’ loss, to put it in the most basic of terms. HUNDREDS of people poured into her life’s celebration to mourn not just for ourselves, but for our city.

(3) Denver sent cards. Not emails…actual snail mail cards. I have to highlight this fact, as it’s something I have always loved doing. In fact, one of the last things Denver did was sit with her best friend and write cards. I received one in the mail the very week she died, so I’ll be keeping THAT card forever. I’ll be keeping one more card: The one I wrote to her, but didn’t get to mail. It’s sitting addressed, in my kitchen. I couldn’t take it to the mailbox because I was driving like a bat out of hell to the ER to meet her. How I wish I would have thrown it in my purse. We always think we have at least one more day, don’t we? As it turns out, we had exactly 23 hours. My last text to her read, “It’s raining and I can’t find a parking spot!! Screw it. I’m giving the car away. I’m on my way into the ER doors now.” See? Cards are better. E-messages are ephemeral. Print is forever.

(4) Denver loved, loved, LOVED our city, and made it her mission to make it a better place. She wasted no time in doing so. She flung her talents about and let her passion for Indianapolis get onto everything and everyone. For many of us tired Hoosiers (tired of hayseed references, tired of flyover state comments, tired of being made fun of by folks who pay too much for housing and spend their lives sitting in traffic), this born Californian opened our eyes to the treasure of a city before us. She became a Hoosier by choice, and she forced us to revisit our treasures: Our hospitality (we assume everyone is as friendly as we are), our culture (we have a lot more than most people realize), our community (take our shared value of kindness, and add-in the belief that if you are meeting a new person, you probably have a friend in common, and you’ll have a city of people who treat each other as friends). Indianapolis is just a truly nice place to live. I know a West-Coaster with a huge box of “I love Indiana” tshirts to prove it.

(5) Denver had mottos which have become an anthem ’round these parts lately: (1) If not now, when? (2) Her final words from her final blog post: “I will ask that you smile at strangers more this week. Be kind simply because you are a kind person. Judge a little less. Hold the door open.”

If we just lived by these uncomplicated words alone, we’d make the world a better place.

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We fear change. I fear change. But I’m so grateful for the personal change I’ve experienced after this unexpectedly painful past 6 months. This change means I no longer make decisions using my old platform of filters. Example: I’ve had a weird, uncomfortable, not-so-great week. Living out Denver’s legacy, I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone and committed to helping my city in a big way. Some of it was super cool. Some of it was not. I had a moment (many moments) when I feared I’d made a huge mistake. Perhaps I should run back to my safe and quiet cottage, and let the city remain “as is”. After all, I’m sure my beloved city will be just okey-dokey without me mucking it up. But those darned new filters of decision-making!

Me: I should quit. This is harder than I planned.

Denver-isn’t-here-to-talk-me-out-of-quitting-filter: Have your passions for Indy changed? Have your goals for Indiana changed?

Me: No.

Denver-legacy-in-my-head-filter: So whassup? You’ve never quit anything in your life.

Me: Seriously, dude. This is scary.

Denver-would-be-laughing-at-my-cowardice-filter: You’re scary.

Me: Yeah! I am.

Denver-loved-Indiana-filter: You can’t quit on our city. You have to stick with it. Look at the wrinkles as an adventure.

Me: You’re totally right. I know you’re right. And I know it’s bat-shit crazy to make up conversations with people who aren’t here, but it eases the pain of the missing.

Matt-isn’t-here-either-and-that-sucks: Keep your face towards the Son. Remember? You promised.

Me: It’s WINTER! There is NO sun!

Matt-took-zero-of-my-bullshit: Don’t argue with me young lady! I mean…OLD LADY WHO I KNEW WHEN SHE WAS YOUNG, AND THEN GOT OLD, BUT KEEPS TELLING ME MY EYESIGHT IS FAILING, AND SHE’S STILL YOUNG, LIKE I CAN’T DO MATH!

Me: Can’t we all just get a beer together and pretend this whole year never happened?

Matt-and-Denver-who-never-met-but-would-agree-on-this: Grow up. Stop whining. Get to work.

 

Version 2

We spend our lives fussing about, short-circuiting over things disguised as blessings, wishing the paths were less bumpy and less full of “adventure”. We forget to say “I love you” at the end of each phone call. And most importantly, we forget how limited our stories on earth will be. Denver knew better, lived better, and modeled a better attitude than most of us will ever have. She exhibited a graciousness which left me speechless. So if I had to leave only one legacy from this past year (and I deeply thank each and every one of you for witnessing my own story, as I know we’ve been through a tough year together), it would be this:

Rush towards people whenever you can. Don’t run from grief if people you love need you, because when it comes down to your final hand: Grief is inevitable. Love is the blessing for which we came. The Sacred Now is all we really have.

Wisdom Comes Suddenly. Godspeed, my friends. As always, Godspeed.

 

Tags: The Girls

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Angela Taplin // Jan 25, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Thank you for sharing your heart so honestly. Your words have moved me. God bless you and your husband in your mourning.

  • 2 Angela k // Jan 25, 2016 at 6:27 am

    For me, there are no words. You express so deeply in a way that I hear your voice and feel the emotion. For me, as your long time friend, to feel the loss and grief from your writing alone. I can’t even begin to imagine what you and Greg are going through. Hugs, big hugs, huge hugs! Much love to you both!
    The world has lost a beautiful sole who has left a legacy. This legacy is an amazing gift to those that knew her and those that meet someone that was impacted by her. It is so hard to understand why. But from you it seems she’s made a lifetime impression in a few short years thst she blessed earth with her presence. I am deeply sorry for your and her family, friends, and everyone’s loss. Xoxo my friends

  • 3 Mari // Jan 25, 2016 at 9:16 am

    So so so beautiful. Clearly I’m not a writer or I would have said it more eloquently. I am, however, quite moved. Thank you Lori.

  • 4 Chris // Jan 25, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Very brave of you, Lori, to lay yourself out there like this. Excellent excellent writing (as usual) and I can feel the sense of connectedness that is so difficult to express. Blessings, sweetie. (And thank you for being one.)