I know I've been snippy and snappy and sarcastic about National Family Caregiver Month, and that's mainly because I've developed what I think is a healthy coping mechanism. Being snippy and snappy and sarcastic is a kind of coping vice, I guess, for some of us who don't drink or do drugs or otherwise act destructively when under a whole lot of stress. And maybe it's not much of a vice -- I think that anger and frustration can also be used to fuel change and increase awareness, break down barriers and make the very real problems that we caregivers deal with on a daily basis somewhat more relevant and resonant for others.
Today, though, I'm going to pause and pay homage to my many caregiver friends who've lost their children. Part of the caregiving deal is that many of us think about and experience death all the time. If we're not worried that our children will die before us, we're worried that we'll die before them. At best, this is a messed up situation, an impossible conundrum, but it gives one incredible perspective about living each day and even each moment with an almost reckless gratitude. Over the twenty-one years that I've been a mother and caregiver, I have known many, many children who have died. They were Sophie's friends in preschool and elementary and middle school. They are the children of a few of my best friends. They are the children of the beautiful people I've met online, blogging, and in the larger medical cannabis world. Just last week, another child died, the son of a woman I met at an epilepsy conference who is part of the powerful community of cannabis professionals in Colorado. She and I were on a panel with a bunch of obdurate professionals -- she as a nurse and parent of a child using cannabis and me as a parent of a child using cannabis. I was devastated to hear of the death of her beautiful son Reggie.
Last night I had the privilege of attending the 6th Annual Candle Lighting to Remember, a beautiful event down in Laguna Beach. We each had a paper lantern that we decorated with markers and stickers, sitting at picnic tables on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I made one for Reggie, specifically, but my intention for the night was to remember all the children I have known in my family caregiver world who have died.
There must have been at least fifty people who walked down a steep beach path, placed their lanterns in the sand and then dropped a tiny candle inside. As the sun went down in a glorious display of pinks and purples and oranges, the lanterns grew brighter and brighter, undulating out in this beautiful serpentine way across the beach.
When the sun had sunk into the ocean, we collected our lanterns and extinguished the lights and walked back up the path to the bluff above.
May you be happy
May you be well
May you be peaceful and at ease
-- Metta, or lovingkindness