Labor and Delivery.
Life and Death.
Liza and David/ Lyze and Dad
L&D means a lot of things to me but when I came across the wedding present pendants I gave my parents, I knew I had to listen to my friends’ suggestion to write. I took this picture and being inspired I wrote, I deleted, I walked away and I came back to write this.
Being a doula for me has always meant honoring both sides of the gate.
When you’re sitting by the door of life entering, you’re acutely aware of the exiting and how that shift is but a thin, beautiful, divine veil.
I just didn’t realize how much this year would play out the death/life dance with me. Five funerals, lots of serious illnesses and many births. In short, life.
The story we tell, the clock that chimes, the falling down and feeling like a puddle of helpless, the heat rising on your back with desire, the disappointment, the longing to be seen and to see, the rhythm of standing, eating, sleeping, making love, taking pills, breathing, driving, resting -it’s a practice of witnessing and participating.
I witnessed an incredible birth this summer. I watched as a mother surrendered to her wisdom, communicating with her daughter inside of her and without medication, redirecting the concept of pain into intense waves. After the initial crowning, the little one opened her eyes even before she was all the way here, outside of her mama, and she looked at me. In the space of that moment, I felt nothing and everything because it was life looking back at itself. I was speechless in mouth and mind. My eyes couldn’t weep because they were just empty and humble. I saw her. I knew her and I honored her, her family and was grateful to bear witness to her first hour of being.
Have you ever judged yourself for not being more emotional? I used to be quite a stream of water works. It’s a funny switch when you’ve got the space to watch your feelings and make the choice or just experience being unattached to them. Moving into a more devotional space and less reactionary, I’ve felt strange in the course of this year that my eyes don’t tear as much and I feel like a watcher. It’s like the story I’m watching isn’t mine and yet my perspective is entirely unique and mine. To behold the birth of a being is so humbling because it’s not about you and your story, it’s about listening to what’s needed from a quieter, stronger, less heady and more rooted place. So it is with all things, birth and death serve as bookmarks, reminders, grabbers to behold your attention.
I’m witnessing now the other side of the veil as we come into autumn. It’s gentle, it’s warm, it’s sweet, it’s a deep surrender as well.
My second mom was diagnosed with an incredibly rare brain cancer in April and in the course of these last few days her ability to talk, walk and even swallow has become limited due to the pressure of the growing tumor in the stem where her nerves live. She has incredible courage and is just doing everything to take care of herself and not give up hope.
We agree that her state is one of healing and our little team mantra is “Liza is healing.” Her tumor acted as a little buddy of a wake up call for her to be present for her life as the one she was “living” wasn’t fulfilling her.
My father is full time being her caretaker and she’s care taking him to remind him to be present, watch his energy and move from doing all that needs to be done but also laughing and living. It’s a delicate balance between doing all the “stuff” to “get better” and to also just straight be here and enjoy life. We’re in limbo between knowing if she’ll be accepted by the FDA as a clinical trial candidate for alternative therapies that have had great success. Two weeks we’ll know. However, in this past week her functionality is in question and we’re looking for how to approach the next chapter.
My dad and Liza met sixteen years ago. She has continuously spoiled me with love and brilliance, she’s been a great teacher and friend, sharp as a tack and a fighter for virtue.
The woman ran a health care service for seniors and those in need in the Bay Area, she was on call to people all the time in addition to being a lawyer, a web designer, award winning tennis semi pro, wife, dog lover and speed racer who arguably has lived her life in the fast lane. In short, if anyone can overcome this little buddy and invite him to leave, it’s her.
The level of commitment and care that my Dad and Liza have for their partnership is profound as they wobble in the unknown. They’re just in it, they’re bobbing and weaving, shaking and rolling, no matter where the dice land.
Our parents are our first teachers. And today, they are teaching me about grace and human-ness as I hold them. There are moments that are awkward and moments we’re grateful to find our flow again. Errands feel amazing. Deciphering her words reminds me, gives us patience and gratitude for the moments of clarity. The ability to speak, swallow and giving up the steering wheel, literally and figuratively is a daily unraveling of knowing what you can do and can’t do.
Surrender has a whole new meaning to me, again and again and again. It’s strange to watch a person know when to ask for help when she’s so fiercely independent.
I haven’t spoken much about my family nor my life of late because I’m just in it and taking time to watch it.
We are all writers, writing our stories every day and I’m finding more and more that I’m the space between the telling and more and more I’m the listening.
I’m the prayer in action, I’m the tender and I have less to say.
Liza’s quality of life is changing, it’s less comfortable and it’s unpredictable just like birth.
She’s so present, it’s beautiful and in her fragility she is grace and is so committed to life, giving it all she has and simultaneously accepting that this may be her time to leave this body.
I can’t control what happens, I can only be here and offer my heart just as I did the wee one that came through in July.
I’m grateful to live my life, to make choices that honor the life I’m getting to live and remembering that showing up sometimes just means working from your computer while eating snacks on the couch. An hour makes a difference. Smelling and hearing your loved ones tinker about the house is something I’ve sorely missed. This modern world offers skype for connection and texting, which is great, but I’ll take real face time over FaceTime and emoticons any day and it takes big effort to make that happen.
Take the time to use your words wisely this week, our speech is a gift. Be grateful for the minutes you spend with those around you, it’s your life you’re giving and sharing with them.