Tonight I was Reflecting again. In 2012, when I came out of my coma, I thought I might have a few weeks to live. My organs were in bad shape and the liquid infection in my abdominal cavity wasn't responding to anti-biotics. The worse part, my pancreas was damaged and the team of doctors eventually had to open me up. One relatively young doctor on my team was in no small way letting me know that surviving without a pancreas was not really an option.
He came in one morning and was checking on my drains. We made small conversation as he talked about all kinds of things. My sister Nalani quietly watched from her chair-sleeper bed. Then the doctor told me, "You will be alright. We just had a guy in here with pancreatitis in way worse condition than you. Oh no...sorry. Wait. He didn't make it." It kind of went over my head in my morphine induced state. After he left however, my sister, Nalani was furious. She said he should have never told me that and wanted to report him. I asked her not to report it and to let it go. I didn't want trouble, especially since he was going to be one of the surgeons helping my main surgeon. I needed all of the positive energy I could muster at that time.
This, of course, led me to thinking that I wasn't going to make it out of the hospital this time. I resigned myself to the possibility that my end was very near. Ready or not. It was a very sickening feeling, deep in the center of my Being, that I had squandered my health away and it might have been irreversible at that point. Too late for anything. All the tomorrows and plans in the coming years evaporated in a stark painful reality.
In thinking about my Life and what it meant in the End, there were some salient reminders that I look back upon with great reverence, humility and gratitude.
Having a fat resume filled with experiences, honors, awards, employment and a detailed accounting of my professional Life really meant nothing at that point. Seeing my family, especially my two young boys as much as I could, in the condition I was in, meant everything.
Recalling all the time I spent away from my family, from my two boys as they were growing up, because I gave so much of myself to my work in the past twenty years only brought regrets. I thought I was helping to save Hawai'i, to save the World. Days and nights at work, leaving me too exhausted to do all the things that I wanted to do with my sons. The mental and emotional stress was unrelenting. I soothed my slow decay with food and plate lunches, and the camaraderie of common suffering with my colleagues. We all suffered health wise, and here was the price I was paying now, possibly with my Life.
The time I spent with Nalani during those five months was the most important and meaningful time we ever spent in our Lives.
It never was remembering the big events. The accolades. Recognitions. Speaking engagements. Meetings with movers and shakers of government and industry. It was the small interactions between family, loved ones, friends, co-workers, and even strangers, that meant the most in recollecting them. I didn't recall the fun and happy times. Money, material possessions, pride, ego, all worthless. It was the struggling, the sadness, the shared suffering, the shared Love, the shared Tears, that seemed to be the most powerful and meaningful at the Life's End. With these, of course, come opportunities for Growth, Love, Forgiveness and Powerful Lessons.
Somehow, the binding of two Souls together, even in a brief fleeting encounter, a once in a Lifetime experience, connecting two people, two Souls, in an Endless Universe. Those connections, those bindings, brought the most comfort in recollection when you sorrowfully come to grips with your own Mortality and imminent Departure from this Incredibly Beautiful World.
Trying to get every Glimpse of a Kind and Loving Face burned into your Memory. Especially those bonded in Love. Just to be able to recognize them again in the Endless Boundless Eternal Universe when your Souls cross paths again. It truly is the Small Things in Life that mean the most. Smile. Love. Hug. Encourage. Empathize. Be Compassionate. These are the things that Truly Matter at the End of this Life...