“They told you life is hard
It’s misery from the start
It’s dull and slow and painful
I tell you life is sweet
In spite of the misery
There’s so much more
Who do you believe?
Who will you listen to
Who will it be?
It’s high time that you decide” – Natalie Merchant from Life Is Sweet
This weekend I was listening to this song, one of my all time favorites. In the song Natalie Merchant is trying to convince the person she is speaking to that life is short and sweet and to be grateful. The person’s parents have told her life is long and hard and dull. Natalie is telling her life is short and sweet. Which is it?
Today, I have to make two phone calls that are extremely uncomfortable. I’m not much of a telephone talker anyway. I have never been much for chit chat. The telephone is for transacting business, making arrangement. But, these are calls I have to make.
One is a guy who was my best friend for years. We were thick as thieves. We met after our divorces and were young and single again together. He and Tywana and I used to hang out on Friday nights. He moved from Lexington up to this area before we did. We thought when we moved here the relationship would just continue, but life had other plans for us. He got married and had a kid. His schedule became full and so did ours, so for years we did that once a year conversation “We have to get together.”, always with the best of intentions, but knowing it wasn’t really going to happen. Finally, a couple of years ago we stopped pretending. He and his wife came to Shayna’s life celebration, but I haven’t seen or heard from him since or for a couple of years before that even though he only lives 45 minutes away. Then, out of the blue, I get a message from him a week ago saying he’s been going through his own shit. I have no idea what that could mean. So, for over a week we’ve been playing phone tag. Today, I am It. So, I call and tag him. Frankly, I’m a bit relieved when he doesn’t answer. I can’t imagine what it might be that prompted him to call. I’m trying to keep my mind from racing to the worst. I know it’s got to be sickness, death or divorce. I’m hoping for the best.
The other call I have to make is to my cousin whose 16-year-old granddaughter suddenly transitioned just a couple of weeks ago. She had a rare, undiagnosed blood disorder that turned fatal in just a couple of days. My cousin isn’t doing well, from what I’ve heard. How can she be? We grew up together in Columbus, but she is a few years older than I am. I haven’t ever spoken to her on the phone. We run into each other at family events every few years. What am I going to say to her? I try to plan the conversation in my head, but that’s not working. I anticipate long moments of awkward silence or worse, me saying the wrong thing. I’d rather not call. But I know I have to. The calls I got after Shayna passed meant so much to me. And I am especially qualified to make this call being a member of the club no one wants to join.
I dial the phone and get her voicemail. Whew! Dodged that bullet. I leave a message telling her to call me back, if she wishes. Several hours pass then my phone rings. It’s a number from Columbus that I don’t recognize. It must be her. Yep. It’s her. I’m on. What will I say?
Somehow I get through the conversation. I realize that, as a grandmother, she is experiencing even a different pain than I am. In addition to missing her granddaughter, she is having to watch her daughter endure what she, as her mother, would like to take away. I tell her about what I believe about our soul plans. I tell her that Yasmine is still right here. I tell her we should be jealous of Yasmine because she is OK. We are the ones who have the hard road to walk. And, most importantly, I tell her we will see them again one day and we will know the answers to our questions. I tell her I hope the fact I am here after 14 months serves as an example to let her know she can endure this. And I tell her that I am always here whenever she wants to talk to someone who can understand.
We are all just walking each other home. Yesterday, a friend who had an NDE shared some wisdom she had gotten from it and one of the NDE people commented on how life isn’t as hard as many people make it. Her attitude, life is sweet. The song comes back to my mind. Is life hard or is life sweet?
Bullshit. Life is hard. If it’s not hard for you now, just wait a bit. This Earth school is no joke. Pain is built in. Yes, suffering is optional. We can learn to deal with the pain, we can learn to keep it in perspective. It’s not easy though.
I put on my headphones to take my walk and the first line of the Podcast I’m listening to today is "Why is life so hard?” It’s an exegesis of the story of Adam & Eve. This post will get very long if I try to break it down here, but suffice it to say it’s what I needed to be reminded of today. It’s not all out of control. This isn’t plan B. The “fall” wasn’t unexpected or even unintended. Yes, life is sweet and life is hard. Like many things, it’s not either-or, it’s both. Hang in there.