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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Presence

My head's killing me again today. You know what's hard? To be affectionate with your loved ones when you're in pain and you just don't feel like touching or being touched. The ultimate sacrifice. LOL

But, that leads me to think about Presence. What does it mean to be present? I mean 100% present. There is a security that it gives you when your partner is just with you. And, as in everything, there are two sides to this coin.

When someone is sick or dying, it's hard to watch when you love that person so much. When I was a nurse's aide, just starting out in that career, I couldn't understand how people could put their loved ones in a nursing home and just abandon them. As I worked with these "forgotten" people, I began to understand the feelings of their loved ones, sort of. It's just really hard to watch someone whom you've known all of your life to be your caretaker, protector, lover, whatever, getting sicker and sicker, forgetting who you are and the memories you've made together, etc.

But, it is soo important to be "there", to be present with that person. Just your presence, whether they're seemingly aware of their surroundings or not, is paramount. Just to be there and say, "Darling, I'm here and I love you." In Bhuddism, there's actually a chant for this that you should repeat over a sick or dying person. In Christianity, you're encouraged to pray for the sick and they will be healed. I am learning that the healing often is what takes place in the heart and mind when someone knows that you love them enough to take the time to tell God how much you love them and want them to be whole. And when you think about it, what is greater than the power of love?

On the other side of the coin is your being present, 100%, for your loved ones. When you're the one who's sick, this is extremely difficult. It's hard to think of anything other than the pain, when you're in that condition. All you can think about is how to get rid of the pain by any means. But, your reality is that you have a husband and kids (or other loved ones) that you are inextricably knit with and they need love just as much as you do. They need love and compassion and the knowledge that you understand what they're going through, watching you in your illness. The overwhelming helplessness, the not knowing how to support you or how to make you as comfortable and comforted as possible. That's when you have to say, "Darling, I know you're here and I love you."

It's acknowledging that just their very presence is important in your life, whether or not that person is functioning at top speed. And it's acknowledging that no matter what your loved one, ie your spouse, is doing to try to make your life better, even if it's a clumsy or ineffective attempt, is appreciated, but that it's even more important to you that they're just present.

One's presence is taken for granted so often. Personally, I don't have the depth of understanding that I should have in knowing that just the fact that I'm present is enough for now. Even though I'm curled up in a ball of pain, wanting to just be still in the darkness, I'm still here and my daughter knows that I'm here. I don't realize how important it is to just be present or what it means to know that my husband and daughter are present with me. Presence is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. It's the deposit of one person's will, concentration and focus, love and their strength. It's the foundation of self-esteem, edification of another's esteem, and gives an unending well to draw from or give to. It's symbiotic. It's powerful and empowering.

Presence is comforting, a knowledge that you're not alone. You may be alone in understanding the kind of pain you're in, but you're not alone or left alone to deal with it all yourself. It would be too overwhelming and enough to bring on hopelessness and despair if we thought that we were alone and without support. Presence dispells despair and hopelessness and replaces those feelings with love and the will to carry on.

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