Awash in Mindfulness and Faith

Photo by RDNE Stock project on Pexels.com

Last night, I was writing my weekly blog post when I realized how sad I was feeling. I was writing about solemn topics, which is perfectly acceptable, but as the midnight hour approached, the blog post was starting to weigh on me and obnubilated my mood. I decided to switch gears and started to write about something entirely different. By the time I finished the new blog post, I had awakened my funny bone. In one way this was a positive thing; on the other hand, I was a bit annoyed that I was wide awake in the wee hours of the morning. 😂

What inspired the complete turnaround was that earlier in the day, I had read something I had no awareness of: laughter is a way of being mindful; you can even say that it’s a form of meditation. I hadn’t thought of laughter as a form of meditation before, but it makes sense. I mean, if we examine mindfulness: it is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. When we laugh, we are fully present to the moment. We are not thinking about the past or the future. We are simply enjoying the moment.

Of course, who doesn’t know that laughter is a powerful thing? When we laugh, our bodies release endorphins, which have mood-boosting and pain-relieving effects. Medical studies show that laughter can also help to improve our immune system and cardiovascular health.

The “funny” thing was, the same day that I read about laughter was when an appliance repair person was scheduled to fix our washer. And, of all people, at all times, he turned out to be a pop-in comedian. Oh, that’s right, he wasn’t a comedian, he had “a PhD from Vermont: a Paper Hanging Degree.” 😂

As he was fixing the washing machine, he painted a hysterical picture, sprinkled with a whimsical accent, that conveyed his recent trip to Italy where he drove over 1,500 miles from the southern to northern part of the country. How vividly I saw him sitting cross legged, with a tall, lanky Al Pacino stature, sipping wine in the same chair that he sat in while playing the starring role of The Godfather.

I mean, man, did I have a lot of afternoon mindfulness. I even recalled Tuscany, one of my bucket list places on a list I had nearly forgotten. Suddenly, I was inspired and as if ready to climb the Apennine Mountains, I could taste its fresh legumes, pasta and cheese (I no longer eat meat). I felt the beaming smiles of its friendly people. Inhaling its burst of sweet oxygen made me feel hopeful and optimistic. I realized that I could live with the limp of PTSD, and a number of other limitations, but still inch my way forward – or if need be, press the “restart” button.

Through all my thoughts and feelings, toppling over with humor, I even learned how to load the washing machine properly so it (hopefully) wouldn’t break down again.

Anyway, I started to think more and more about laughter and our comedian-appliance guy, and realized how we connected through the funny side of life. (Although I wouldn’t want his mom in Portugal to hear how he described her as having a big, square wine barrel body, a heavy mustache crowning her lips and nylon stockings that she tied in knots at her knees! 😂)

I started thinking that if laughter could connect people, then it could be a way to connect to something much bigger – bigger than ourselves. Whether we call it a higher power, God, or “All There Is,” there is something bigger than ourselves, such as the Apennine Mountains, that we are all connected to. And when we laugh, I believe we are acknowledging that connection. We begin to open up to the joy and wonder of life while expressing our gratitude for all that we have.

Anyway, not to sound too esoteric, leave it to the appliance guy to reinforce that the best medicine – and meditation – really is laughter. After a roller coaster of a weekend, it took his humor to level me. Switch things around and jump start a blog I had not planned on writing.

There is no doubt that laughter can help us find hope in the midst of despair. In this way, laughter can act like a tip-top washing machine, cleansing our saddened hearts and minds with its healing power.

Faith Muscle

Stop “Shoulding”

Have you ever had an experience with someone who seems to know you better than you know yourself? That’s how I feel when I encounter my neighbor Eli Louise who constantly seems to fold herself into my stratosphere like a bur on your ankle socks that you can’t loosen no matter how hard you pull at it. She has no idea about me or my life, but within seconds after running into her yesterday, she was setting forth directives that she deemed were tailored to my needs.

A.YOU should retire. B. YOU should sell your house. C. YOU should move into a condo.

I work hard not to take Eli Louise personally. She “shoulds” all over everyone she meets.

Before I offered a reply to her momentous pronouncements, I felt the solid ground beneath my feet. I looked her in the eyes. To summarize what I said, it basically amounted to something like people who feel out of control internally often try to regain a sense of control by controlling the people and situations around them.

After I said this, she immediately shifted the conversation to lamenting about the people she had met the previous weekend. Fortunately, I managed to escape the situation and her tornado of toxicity.

Surprisingly, gratitude managed to penetrate my ruffled state. I realized that despite her attempts to sound superior, I knew that I was the one who was truly fortunate. She may have thought she was the one reaping the benefits of wealth and retirement, but I had a different perspective. I intrinsically knew that true peace of the mind could not be bought or obtained through the material world. True peace is an inner state of being that must be cultivated from within.

How? By making a conscious choice and decision on a daily basis to stay close to our true selves, away from the chaos of everyday life. It also helps to stay clear of those who “should” all over us. They are not helpers. They distract us from what truly matters by flooding us with their own insecurities.

And so, there I was after my brief encounter, feeling pressured to feel “I should” live up to certain standards of success and happiness. In my fury, I planned to write a seething blog post about Eli Louise and describe the indignation of being judged by a self-righteous person, and how it felt infuriating and demoralizing. I also wanted to explore why judgmental people are only a reflection of themselves and how to deal with them.

But then I asked myself, “WHY? WHY invest the time and energy to focus on negative forces?”

I mean, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the Eli Louises in the world. However, with a little faith, we can shift our perspective and fill our lives with meaning instead of siphoning our spirits with the “shoulds.”

Besides writing a blog post focused solely on my negative emotions regarding Eli Louise, I decided how I could incorporate my feelings and use them as an opportunity for personal growth. However, I procrastinated and put off writing by going on FB, which I rarely do and, lo and behold, I found the following image that perfectly encapsulated the next steps for me to take.

The rest of the day I spent in a scavenger hunt style, combing through the trash and panning for gold – the things that truly matter in my life, such as writing this blog post as I wore my Bombas socks that my childhood friend, Anna, had sent me as a “Just Because” gift this past winter. Sipping a freshly brewed cup of steaming coffee that was so pure, I easily imagined the smooth beans cooling my palms as I held the cup in my hands.

I was further rewarded to get to bask in the sun’s rays in my home office and feel the sturdy winds from the open window that moved around me – forces at work in the world that reminded me how they were beyond my control. The realization made me appreciate the beauty of nature, and its power to bring a sense of solitude and peace to my life – even without the luxury of retirement.

Faith Muscle

Nitrogen 4 U

Image by Miranda from Pixabay

Last week when I took my car in for service, I decided to spend an extra thirty dollars to fill the four new tires I purchased with nitrogen instead of air. For me, my car is especially meaningful because it was originally my son’s. He started the tradition of taking special care of this car, which he bought shortly before his passing, and I am proud to carry it on in his memory.

The service manager, Darren, who is likely the age my son would have been, had asked me if I wanted to continue using nitrogen in the new tires the mechanic was putting on my car. He explained that nitrogen, unlike air, is a much more stable gas and is less affected by temperature swings. Other gases, alternately, expand with heat and contract with cold, causing the tire pressure warning light to come on when colder fall temperatures hit. Nitrogen is becoming increasingly popular in the tire industry as it can help to extend the life of tires and to improve their performance.

In the moment of agreeing to the question at hand, I spontaneously added that we should all get a spurt of nitrogen inside us. This statement may have seemed random and out of place, but it actually was a reflection of my belief. When we take the time to reflect on our values and beliefs, we create a sense of balance that helps us maintain a harmony within ourselves regardless of what happens in the world around us. It may feel impossible at times, but with a little faith, anything is possible. At least, this is what I started learning nearly 39 years ago.

Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

Darren was taken aback by my suggestion. He paused to consider what I had said and after a few moments, his face lit up with delight as he replied, “You’re right.” Then he added, “You know nitrogen makes up a part of the air we breathe.”

After we both reflected on the concept, he turned around and bee-lined back to his work area. This instance was an example of how even the smallest moments can have a profound impact on our lives.

While sitting alone in the waiting room, I heard guests on a TV talk show in the adjoining room shout and spew insults at one another. At once, I contemplated nitrogen with a new set of appreciative eyes. I thought about how rhythmic breathing is a powerful tool for managing stress and anxiety. It can help us to accept life’s challenges, foster resilience, and cultivate peace of mind.

Since I was four years old, reading a variety of books has been an integral part of who I am today. Thanks to my dear friend Bruce, who in the 80s introduced me to a book, Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, that profoundly influenced me. The book was published in 1946 and chronicled the author’s experiences as an inmate in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. This book provided me with an insight into the power of resilience and the strength of the human spirit. Frankl’s idea that our greatest freedom is the ability to choose our attitude at any instance in life has always resonated with me. It serves as a reminder that we have the power to choose how we respond to any situation, no matter how heart-shattering it may be. I always imagine Frankl escaping the atrocities around him by playing a birdsong in his mind, and experiencing a moment of peace and joy by tapping into his imagination that broke through and penetrated his reality.

Below is a quote from the book in which the author silently converses with his wife in his head.

The guard passed by, insulting me, and once again I communed with my beloved. More and more I felt that she was present, that she was with me; I had the feeling that I was able to touch her, able to stretch out my hand and grasp hers. The feeling was very strong: she was there. Then, at that very moment, a bird flew down silently and perched just in front of me, on the heap of soil which I had dug up from the ditch, and looked steadily at me.

The more I thought about Frankl and all the other random ideas, the more I realized the metaphor of how nitrogen works and how we can also take in the hardships of life and breathe out peace. It is the balance of our wheels, both physical and metaphorical, that gives us the strength to keep rolling even when the sky falls like a sharp shard of ice in the split center of our head.

Faith Muscle

Pawfect 🐾 Peace

Two days ago, my two grand fur babies departed after 10 intense days of staying with us at my house while my daughter vacationed in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. During this time, I experienced an intense mix of emotions: fear of the indoor cats escaping into the wilds around our house, happiness at seeing them so content and playful, angst when they tried to tear apart furnishings. On the other hand, I felt deep sadness knowing that our time together was coming to an end yet, paradoxically, counting the days until they left.

Both of my daughter’s kitties are rescue cats. The newest addition, June, is deaf. Now, I’ve had my share of cats over the years, but I must say, none of them had come close to her fiendish personality. From her mischievous antics to her friendly demeanor, she is a one-of-a-kind feline. Just imagine Spider-Man’s slow crawl up, as he relies on static electricity to attach to walls and ceilings. This is how she looked when she climbed up the living room window’s brand new screen. She set out on a mission to capture a bug and prove that there is indeed a method to her madness. Unfortunately for her, the bug flew free. Fortunate for us, the screen remained intact.

She may look like a pure white angel with a sweet face, but beware! She is living proof that appearance can be deceiving. Perhaps, it is because she is still young, around 18 months, or because it was her first experience at my house or maybe her deafness played a part in her behavior, but here’s the nicknames I and my daughter’s godmother came up with: House Wrecker; Demolition Crew; Hellish Hellion; Loonie Junie and Loon June.

When June first arrived, she hissed at everyone, particularly Gemini, or shortened form, Gemi, who is a real Gem. My daughter rescued him from a New York City shelter, and he rescued her, and their bond is unbreakable. Over the years, the sleek, black cat, that can be cast as an Egyptian model, has “shed” many of his idiosyncrasies. One particular habit that remains a constant is eating plastic and then throwing up. His favorite type of plastic is the white Amazon mailing bags. His second preference is the loud, stiff, crunchy clear plastic.

A week prior to my fur babies’ arrival, I not only hid the plastic, I spent no less than four hours “June” proofing my house by storing vases, breakables and finding alternative space for my houseplants. Then there was shopping and getting litter pans and food and toys, so many toys, prepared.

Why even bother? Why can’t she hire someone to come to her place? You have other priorities. Sure, I heard plenty of objections from “concerned” parties and some interesting self-talk discussions that I conducted on my own.

Why do it? During trying times when I over-extend, inconvenience myself and, truthfully want to pull my hair out, what helps me is calling to mind: Faith without works is dead. Without getting too esoteric about the idea, it is merely my way of saying, “thank you” to the universe. I use the acronym: FAA. Faith. Attitude. Action.

The cruel blows from my life have been difficult to bear, but they should not blind me from the lucky strokes that have found their way through the pain. It is these lucky strokes that give me hope and courage to keep going, no matter how hard it gets. For example, people who love me. A safe neighborhood to live in. Clean water to drink. Nutritious food to eat. And music, OMG, music. I’ve never had such an appreciation before for it as I do now.

Before my firstborn was born, I was the most self-centered person on earth, and I loved every minute of it. Don’t get me wrong. Even though I had to juggle my own commitments, I never failed to make time for charity work, which is why people called me Sister Stacy in the 80s. The difference was that the charity work was done on my own schedule and at my convenience. When I felt like it. Inconvenience was incomprehensible.

In 1993, after my son was born, I had to be ready at any given moment to tend to his colic and medical issues. Luckily, I had a tight support group. Every week, I would mouth the same thing to the members, “My son is teaching me how to love.”

Twenty-one months later, my daughter was born and by then sleepless nights and putting my life on hold became the norm. This was particularly true since my then husband was not as flexible about not having the ability to enjoy himself.

In the end, I was the winner. This crash course in parenting taught me the importance of having flexibility and the ability to drop everything at any point in time.

Keeping my faith in times of difficulty and having the right Attitude and Action to show unconditional love have been two of the most important lessons I have learned in life. My children have taught me the most important lesson of my life – how to love unconditionally. Without their help, I would never have welcomed these furry creatures into my home and my heart.

There’s another reason I like to have the open door policy at my house (as long as June and Gemi don’t spring outside of it!). I learned it after grief stripped my being to a bare minimum. The lesson is that I must take advantage of every moment that I have with my loved ones and strive to build strong bonds with each other through communication, understanding, compassion, kindness and make it as meaningful as possible in light of the fleeting moments.

Martin Hägglund’s This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom reminds us that life should be lived in the present moment and encourages us to make every second count. By understanding and embracing this concept, we can make better use of our time and focus on what really matters in life.

His love of the place is tinged with a sense of impermanence and an acceptance that nothing lasts forever. In the following passage, the author paints the picture of his native northern-Swedish landscape and perfectly illustrates what I refer to:

When I return to the same landscape every summer, part of what makes it so poignant is that I may never see it again. Moreover, I care for the preservation of the landscape because I am aware that even the duration of the natural environment is not guaranteed. Likewise, my devotion to the ones I love is inseparable from the sense that they cannot be taken for granted. . . . Our time together is illuminated by the sense that it will not last forever and we need to take care of one another because our lives are fragile.

In this vein, I survived the ten days albeit exhausted and sometimes overwhelmed, but it was worth it, and my agreement and follow through to cat sit for my daughter’s fur babies reinforced just how much I love her, and I hope one day when I am no longer around, she will be able to draw my feelings for her out of her memory bank. You see, in each funny, silly, harried and dastardly moment, I was in the process of carving a legacy for my daughter that is framed with the words: I loved you then; I love you now. I will love you always and forever, and my love reaches farther than the moon, stars and infinite catwalks through eternity and beyond. It is a reminder that my love for her transcends time, distance and even death itself.

Faith Muscle

Faithfully Fluid

Last week in my blog post, I elaborated on my mom’s wise words of wisdom: “You never know how someone’s end will be.”

Sometimes my mom also reminded me, “We never know how our end will be.”

In other words, it is easy to get carried away by the trappings of success in life. Whether it is a successful career, a good job, or material things like a new car or house, how fast we can grow complacent and think that we have achieved all that we need to. However, staying humble and never getting too comfortable with our current situation is essential for continued success in life. I strive to stay grounded and remember that nothing in this world lasts forever. In this way, I am able to appreciate the good times while also being mindful of the bad times and knowing how quickly things can change.

For me, it all begins with my EGO. At the heart, EGO can often be the source of both our strength for self-improvement and our downfall. Whenever I find myself getting too caught up in my own ego, I take a step back and reflect on how my actions are affecting others and myself. Typically, the first step of the process is reminding myself that EGO is an acronym for Edging God Out or Edging Goodness Out (depending on the preference), and it calls to mind the concept of the importance of being humble and kind.

Despite spending nearly four decades honing my skills and training in the “ego gym,” it’s still easy for me to get caught up in the pursuit of recognition and validation. I’ve discovered that ego-driven behavior does not lead to true success or fulfillment. It’s important to recognize that I, as well as everyone else, have something valuable to offer, regardless of how “beautiful” things appear and how much recognition we get from others.

The ego is an ever-present force, and it can be difficult to resist its pull. It is easy to often fall into society’s trap and be consumed by the need for more — more money, more power, more success. In the process, we lose our focus on what truly matters. The Buddhist principle of non-attachment, “The root of suffering is attachment,” has been valuable to me and helps me break free from the grip of ego and lead a life of contentment.

For nearly four years, I’ve experienced a crash course in detachment from everything that I thought defined me; one big ego deflation that has left me shrunk and depleted. The challenge for me is using this experience to bring something positive into life, even if it just boils down to being more open and listening to others without judgment. You see, for many years I thought my faith and beliefs were the fix for me and everyone else. By not recognizing the importance of understanding others and their beliefs, I was blind to the real solutions and made some wrong decisions that brought me to a series of tragic consequences. It was only after this experience that I realized how important it is for me to look beyond my own ego.

Everyone has their own unique set of circumstances and insecurities, so it is important to respect their autonomy and not question how they choose to live their life.

For many people, mental health issues can be an invisible burden that they have to bear alone. This was certainly the case for my friend Brian. After struggling with depression and self-harm for most of his life, he finally found a way out – the practice of Buddhism. For the last six years, he has been using Buddhist principles to manage his mental health and live a happier life.

It is important for me to remember that everyone has different needs and preferences when it comes to self-care. What works for one person may not work for another. It is mandatory for me to focus on myself. When I do this, it is much more possible for me to find faith even in the midst of uncertainty, because, no, I don’t know what MY end will bring, but as I sail through life, I don’t want my EGO to be the captain of my boat. In order to reach my final destination, I am learning how to have a humble attitude and open heart, and allow the wind to guide me, trusting that one day, without any luggage weighing me down, I will reach paradise.

Faith Muscle

Raquel’s Reflection

Sunset Vectors by Vecteezy

Iconic American actress, Raquel Welch, was the epitome of beauty and grace, and her captivating, sexy personality made her a popular public figure and a common choice for many first crushes!

Even though she lived a long life, I was taken aback last week when I heard about the passing of the 82-year-old Hollywood legend.

We all have our own end, no matter how strong and powerful we may be.

“You never know how someone’s end will be.” I’ve written before about how my mom repeatedly reminded me of this simple, but wise insight. She would nudge me and awaken my consciousness with those words for me to call to mind everyone’s vulnerability, fragility and mortality, especially during the times I felt angry or frustrated with someone.

My mom’s words came at me loud and clear when I found out about the sad reality that Ms. Welch suffered from Alzheimer’s at the end of her life. Immediately I realized how ironic it was that she memorized so many lines for her roles throughout her long career, and yet in the end was unable to remember even the most basic things.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a place of reverence and admiration, but it also serves as a reminder that even the brightest stars can eventually burn out — many times painfully.

The world is an ever-changing stage, with each person playing a unique role in it. We may experience grand finales in life or flops, perhaps, too, our curtains may drop before we reach the end of the script. In any case, we are not the lead writer and showrunner.

No, there are no dress rehearsals. However, with the right attitude we can pull off that movie star look and feel, and empower ourselves to take risks, push boundaries and live our lives with courage and conviction. A little faith also helps us, knowing that although we can’t see them backstage, there is a pair of trench boots in our size that stand ready and tall when we need them.

Faith Muscle

Fly, Birdie,🕊️ Fly

Faith Muscle

Welcome Spring 2023

Faith Muscle

Baby Steps Count

Image by Joe from Pixabay

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Faith Muscle

Sadie Said: Her Words Live On❤️

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Chicken salad with grapes and pecans. Classic macaroni salad.  Picnic egg salad with capers. Smoked salmon platter. Tuna, cucumber and tomato tea sandwiches. Three-layer cranberry jello mold with raspberries, mango and pineapple. Grand finale: showstopping cheesecake, strawberry shortcake and homemade brownies.

This was a mere sampling of the Thursday community lunch menu that Sadie meticulously planned out during our volunteer commitment that I described in last week’s blog, ensuring that everyone had something delicious to enjoy. Most memorable, though, was Sadie’s Sensational Sponge Cake. Yep, three simple ingredients – eggs, flour, and sugar  – and it may be hard to believe that someone with a flair for the dramatic and a wardrobe full of rainbow colors and spike heels would select a signature dessert as plain as sponge cake. Even though Sadie had a panoramic colorful background and personality to match, she also enjoyed the simple pleasures of life.

Her attention to detail and passion for bringing people together also made the weekly lunches an experience that was akin to a holy one. Basically, for me this meant I filled the backstage roles that included bringing the paper goods, preparing the coffee, helping set up and clean up afterwards.

Incredibly, by year two of our commitment, Sadie’s friends, whom I also elaborated on in last week’s blog, ended up pitching in! (There was only one man in the group who was the exception. Unless he was noshing or drinking, he was asleep in the corner of the room.) Overall, though, it was an inspiring example of how collective action can make a difference and create lasting change. After a year of working with Sadie, my outlook on life had changed significantly. I looked at the world with newfound appreciation, understanding and faith. Prior to meeting Sadie, I had experienced spells of depression that left me feeling isolated and helpless. However, her influence in my life helped to lift the dark veil that had been looming over me for so long. With her kind words and unwavering support, she gave me the courage to face my struggles and find a way out of the darkness.

Then one fateful Thursday, darkness descended on us in a new way. I arrived at the commitment earlier than Sadie, which was unusual. As I was setting up, Sadie ran past her group of friends that accompanied her in her clown car and charged into the church hall with the energy of a frenzied bat, desperate to avoid the harsh light of day.

“Look! Look! I just saw this this morning.”

As she slowly lifted her pitch-black long hair, a sight of horror was revealed. Running down her neck were large lumps, but smaller than golf balls, that had been hidden beneath her locks. It was a shocking discovery that made it difficult to comprehend what could have caused them to appear. A feeling of dread suddenly came over me.

Somehow I discerned I was the only one she had, at least thus far, confided in about her discovery and before her friends and the lunchtime crowd arrived, I shrieked, “You have to go to the doctor. TODAY!”

Without any resistance, she nodded her head in agreement, and we performed our duties quieter than usual. Little did she know that the doctor would examine her that day and send her to an oncologist just a few hours later. I was devastated when I found out that my close friend had been diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, two weeks later, the news we received was heartbreaking — she had cancer in her lymph nodes and it wasn’t good. It was particularly sad because she not only had three adult daughters from her first marriage, but her youngest daughter, from her third marriage, was only eight years old, being too young to comprehend the extent of the illness.

By then, two other volunteers replaced us at the Thursday luncheons. I focused on work as well as preparations for my upcoming May wedding. It was ironic that after sharing all my sad stories about being single with Sadie, I had quickly met a nice man (so I thought at the time) and we were engaged shortly after. While Sadie underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment, she only wanted to hear about two things: my plans for my wedding a year from that time and all the people who beat the odds against cancer.

Although life had thrown her many injustices, she never once complained. Instead, she was grateful for the second chance to make a new life for herself, despite being pulled back down by another set of very different circumstances that were about to demolish her dreams for a second time.

Sadie and I never talked about her being healthy enough to attend my wedding. Deep inside, we knew it was not in the cards. The last time I saw her in the hospital was in April of the following year, one month before my wedding, and a day before she died.

When I walked into her room, I found her weak and pale, yet sitting up in her bed. Her signature mane of hair now gone; a stark contrast to the woman everyone had come to know and love. She wore a powder blue cap that made her look twenty years older than her forty-something years. She smiled warmly and greeted me with a whisper, “Hey! How ya doing? The beautiful bride to be.”

Holding back the tears, I could only let out a soft, “Hello.”

As I sat by her bedside, I sensed a cloud of warm air enveloping us as we held hands. She expressed her usual eagerness to hear about the wedding plans, and couldn’t wait to find out every detail – from the church to the reception, but most of all, she wanted to know what food would be served in the evening.

“We are having a beautiful array of food. Served to perfection. Nothing, though, compared to your lunches, Sadie. They were a true work of art. They were Holy.

She flinched because it hurt to laugh. “We didn’t meet every Thursday to eat lunch. We came together to share something more important  –  love. Nothing’s more Holier than that.”

I stopped pushing the tears away and as I looked into Sadie’s eyes, I realized that no amount of words could ever express the depth of my gratitude for her presence in my life. “I love you, Sadie.”

After I exited her room and slowly moved down the hallway with my head full of memories and my stomach in knots from the pain, my mind suddenly filled with the craziest thought imaginable. In a split second, I made an abrupt three hundred and sixty degree turn and rushed back to her room.

“Sadie! I’m sorry to bother you.”

“It’s okay,” she barely murmured.

“Can I have your recipe for Sadie’s Sensational Sponge Cake?”

“Yeah. Sure. But come back tomorrow. I’ll give it to you then and you can write it down,” Sadie whispered before she drifted off to sleep.

The next day, as I already mentioned, Sadie died, a month before my wedding. Obviously, she never gave me her recipe for Sadie’s Sensational Sponge Cake. The consolation was that I received something far sweeter and more valuable than temporary bodily sustenance: her recipe for life.