Living the Life You Want

Events in recent days--friends mourning losses of parents, conversations about living life to its fullest in the presence of health challenges, and conversations about end of life decisions--all bring back memories of my dad's passing, which I wrote about in my first book, The Choice.   

That book was about Dad's decision to end his life with the help of Dr Kevorkian, a choice that my brother and I supported.  But rereading the book now, I realize the book is also about the gift, as a daughter, of being included in the conversation about what Dad wanted--which was to die at home. 

And all of that was actually a conversation about life. Living it the way he wanted until the end.  I remember asking him, days before he died, why (knowing when he would die) he was still taking clarinet lessons.  His answer: "To get better at the clarinet". 

A few weeks back, as I was talking with medical folks in Minnesota about our experience as a family, and their concern that the medical system has a hard time acknowledging that further medical intervention may not be what a person needs or wants,  I began to see more clearly how all of these conversations are about what we want from life even at its end. (Further illustrated in this beautiful piece on death and dying by Dr. Louis M. Profeta, I Know You Love Me--Now Let Me Die)

It's apt then that The Choice should end with a poem of mine titled "Life".



This poem finds its way
As life does,
Searching for the soil
In crevices,
Cracks in which
Flowers bloom
Against all odds. 

Life makes its way
Petals bending with
The dew drops,
And then falling
Upon the ground. 

The sudden turn of
Word never expected
When the pen began,
The sudden sunlight of
A smile or rain upon
The earth long after
Seeds have fallen
Pointlessly, all open
Up new worlds
Of stirring life,
Of tendrils seeking
Places to take hold,
Where once
Nothing would grow. 

  Judy Brown, from The Choice, 1995, Conari Press.