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Holistic Health & Wellness Coach

Brittany Maynard and Lauren Hill. Same direction… two very different paths… Live it or Leave it?

Lauren Hill, 19.  Also diagnosed with terminal brain cancer

Lauren Hill, 19. Also diagnosed with terminal brain cancer

Brittany Maynard, 29 diagnosed with terminal brain cancer

Brittany Maynard, 29 diagnosed with terminal brain cancer

By now you’ve heard about Brittany Maynard.  She is the 29 year old woman who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  She moved to a state that allows for Death with Dignity, a legal form of assisted suicide.  She created a bucket list of wishes and scheduled her departure date.  She was determined to end the journey before a possible massive stroke or other complications could erupt.  Although there was no promise of these complications, she didn’t want to experience them or have her family witness them. She checked off the items on her bucket list and did so with gusto and dignity!   She completed her death this past weekend.   She chose to leave it when the timing was right for her.  She prepared herself and her family.  She planned for it.  She chose when and how and did it on her terms.

Have you also heard about Lauren Hill?  She is a 19 year old Cincinnati woman who was also diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  She is progressing such that her dream of playing college basketball (she is on the team with first game only weeks away) was literally disappearing with each passing week.  Her coordination is affected such that she can no longer dribble the ball well.  Her right arm doesn’t always follow her commands making it more difficult to shoot baskets.  It is expected she will be unable to play basketball by the time the season officially starts.
Lauren chose to live it.  To make the best of life every day she has yet to live.  A few weeks ago the NCAA granted special permission to allow an early game so Lauren could live her dream and play college basketball before she dies.  A death she knows is soon.  A death she knows could be clouded with complications. A death she knows could be painful.  Complications or no, the journey will still be short.  She isn’t focused on what difficulties could await her.  She chose instead to focus on the here and now and enjoy every moment as if it could be her last.  There are times when Lauren is so weak she cannot stand, let alone run.  Yet, she is present and engaged in the process of living.
I have been at the beside of many people as they lay dying.  Death and dying is the focus for a hospice nurse.  And during my years as an emergency room nurse, I saw death experiences from car accidents and shootings to overdoses and massive heart attacks.  Dying is something every single one of us must look forward to.  It will happen…there is no way around it!  Yet, so many of us don’t want to think about it.  Or worse, we don’t plan for it.
Both of these young women were delivered a diagnosis none of us ever want to hear, terminal, inoperable, unfixable, brain cancer.  Both of them chose how they wanted to live out their remaining days on earth.  Both of them brought their journey public and both of them allowed us to experience a wee bit of their journey with them. Isn’t it interesting their journeys paralleled in many ways yet they chose opposite endings for their life’s song.   Do you know which you would choose if this became the next chapter in your book of life?
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Beautiful Aunt Bonnie

12488_10152613160828833_5857682271535379778_nToday my Aunt Bonnie passed over.  She was one of my favorite people.  Why?  Because she was one of those people would had “it all” but was always able to “keep it real”.  She would share her experiences about all the countries she’d visited as if she was talking about going to a movie.  She had no false sense of self.  She put on no airs.  And she was a great grounding agent for anyone who did.  She knew what was important was how we love and serve each other.   She lived a great life and had already shared with her family that she was ready to let go.

I had this vision of her this morning.  She was surrounded by her family here on earth as her soul ascended.  She was greeted by her Spirit family as she arrived in the Spiritual realm.  I saw her parents, her sister, my father, and all her beloved Boston Terriers who have been her companions for all the years I’ve known her.  They were all there to greet her and she was so happy and felt such immense love and peace.  As she looked back at her family, she knew they would be fine as they continue on without her presence on earth.  I was awed at her sense of peace and joy at being back in her Spiritual home.  It was a beautiful vision and it allowed me to stop grieving and instead be filled with joy for her.

I have spent a lot of time today reflecting on the many years I’ve known Aunt Bonnie and Uncle George and the many stories we have of our families sharing events and celebrations. There are so many stories.  All of them make me smile as I remember.  I’ve also reflected on the memories of my father and how I miss his presence.  He and Aunt Bonnie shared a special fondness for each other.  They got along  very well and considered themselves a part of a special clan known as “MTB’s” aka, Married to Bogumills (my mother’s siblings).  They, along with the other MTB”s, were a hoot when gathered together.  It was as if they had an understanding like no other because of their connection to the Bogumill family.

My Dad had a very difficult childhood.  He and his siblings have shared some childhood stories that made me weepy.  However, for as many years as I can remember,  Dad would say, “If I died today, I’d die a happy man”.  It always made me smile.  It usually came after a special event, or a family discussion, or just a quiet evening with his grandchildren.  He seemed to purposefully want to point out that he was pleased.  Dad’s statement confirmed for us that he was happy with his life and how it was progressing.  He seldom ever looked back at his childhood.  He stayed present and he was grateful for his life.   Later, when he became ill, he reminded us that each of us will die from this lifetime and be returned back to Spirit.  One day, while just he and I were chatting, he reminded me of how often he had said, “If I died today, I’d die a happy man.”  He wanted to make sure I knew he still meant it.  I believe Aunt Bonnie would have shared the same sentiment about her life.  She seemed so happy and grateful and thankful.  And I believe she died a happy human.

If you died today, would you die a happy human?  Take just a moment to reflect upon your life and life purpose.  Have you yet made a positive impact on this planet?  Did you participate in something helpful or healing to others? Do you know your life purpose?  Can you truly say this has been a life well lived?  If not, what are you going to change…..  and when?

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