death and life

What does it mean that we all will die at some point? I am a chaplain in training. Yesterday two of my patients died in ICU. And before that three patients died during the week. Patient that died in ICU, Edna (pseudonym) was a lovely person. So was her husband, Ed. I visited them twice before she got transferred to the ICU. She and Ed talked about Alaska as if it were the place to be! Imagine, Alaska, the state that elected Sarah Palin as governor! Mr and Mrs E encouraged me to apply for a job there. Oh they need people for everything! You need to be roughed though. Are you outdoorsy? Oh every guide we had carried a rifle. !!! it was on their trip to Alaska that Mrs E fell asleep on tours and Mr E knew something was wrong he said. It wasn’t like Edna to be sleeping on tours! Trip to Alaska had saved her life they said. Mrs E, how do you stay so positive? Oh, I give myself pep talks. You’ll have to teach me how you do that! Oh, I just talk to God. oh, that’s right up my ally! maybe next time we could pray together. …

but there was no next time. on my way up to the ICU to answer a page, I ran into Mr E. I was caught off guard. mr E answered the question I was thinking in my head. She’s not doing so well. she’s on life support. you want to meet my daughters? they are both here. sorry I was paged for another patient. I’ll drop by afterwards. my heart sank. on my way to ICU I was already sad, heart broken. when I dropped by mr E said to come back later. they are waiting for a priest. could I check on that? absolutely! I thought I’d get another chance to visit with the patient and family.

later in the afternoon, the room was closed. I could tell room was empty. still I had to find out. a clerk told me the patient expired. noooo. I thought I could come pray together with mr and mrs E. after I left the hospital, I felt like a lost spirit. I walked but I was looking past the objects. I wasn’t really seeing or thinking anything except when a cab angrily honked at me. I thought, sure, run me over, everyone dies. I Texted my boyfriend. I am walking aimlessly. his response was a question mark. guess my text needed clarification. I’m trying to walk off grief I said.

it felt weird to be alive encountering death so closely. I didn’t feel dead. I didn’t quite feel alive either. I had asked a colleague during the day, the staff in ICU, what are that made of? how do they do it?

similarly, what kind of people are chaplains exactly? how do chaplains do it? Are they pain and suffering junkies? no. pain sucks. suffering sucks. but we endure pain and suffering sometimes even choosing it as a profession because we care. it is a hard life. I’m not sure I can take it. all I can say is I sure am happy I got a chance to meet mr and mrs E. she was a lovely soul. so is Mr E.

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loving it!

i don’t think i was doing that great for a while.  i didn’t go out to meet people.  i only would leave my room/apartment for therapy and gym.  i stopped going to all church related events.  i was hyberhating.  i want to say i was recharing.  but i don’t think i was.  i was just hiding from the world so i wouldn’t have to really live my life.

then last monday (dec 22) i had reservation to flly out to california.  i didn’t want to disappoint my cousins and nieces and nephews again.  i cancelled my trip ou to california last time i was supposed to visit.  the moms (my cousins) told me how upset their eldest kids were (my oldest niece and nephew).  i felt so bad that i let them down.  i felt even worse that it seemed out of my control to feel well enough to go on the trip.

i don’t know that i’m feeling better and if bettter, i don’t feel much better.  but anyway, at the last minute i finally got out of bed to start packing.  i didn’t have clean clothes.  i thought i could do my laundry sometime over the weekend.  but everyday i would think, i’ll do it tomorrow.  so i packed my laundry, took a shower, and eat something.  then when i finally got to the airport my plane was delayed 4  hours!  by the time i arrived in california, i was ready to just collapse which was good becasue that meant that my brain was ready to shut down.

i’m staying at my cousin’s house which they just moved into.  they had bought a sofabed for me in time for me to be able to use it on my last trip (which didn’t happen).  and they really made a triumphant effort to furnish their new house before i came.  the guest room is perfect.  it’s on the other end of the house separated by family room and kitchen.  i have a bathroom on this side of the house.  wow i couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay and feel like home, while i am away from home.  i mean it’s better than my room back in boston.  it’s clean, it’s spacious, lots of sun, and there’s plenty of food in the house all the time!

i keep myself busy, playing with the kids, then i just retreat to my room and find stuff to do on the internet.  i seem to have found my own personal trainer on the west coast too!  my cousin’s husband (who is also my friend), takes me along when he goes exercising.  and when i take in more calories than i need, he gives me a look.  and that look doesn’t stop me from eating, but it makes me think twice before take a bite of icecream, or wahtever sweet stuff i am about to indulge in!  at costco yesterday, i wanted to buy buy a whole cheesecake, but both my cousin’s husband and my niece said, No!  it’s not on the list!  so i was promised one slice of cheesecake whwen i burn off enough calories in the next few days.  i walked/jogged about 3-4 miles past two days.  and my new-westcoast-trainer is going to take me to a gym or a hiking trail and set me in motion.  🙂

life sucks.  that hasn’t changed.  evennow, if i am given the choice of signing off now or living until old old age to die of natural death, i would choose to sign off right now without a blink!  bug since no one is really offering to put me out of misery (i’m sure if i were an animal, someone would be willing to put me out of my misery.  but since i’m a human being, it gets all complicated to get help to bring my life to an end!), i try to do things, and only things that i want to do (it works for the most part).

for some reason, i am constantly tired and feel sleep deprived even though i am getting enough sleep and am not doing anything really.  so i guess i won’t be planning my funeral service right now.  mayber i’ll get back to it later, maybe next year.  i mean, doesn’t every one deserve a nice funeral service?

back to philosophy?

my thesis is more philosophy of religion or philosophy than it is theology.  so it got me thinking, should i go back to doing philosophy?  well, i’d be doing philosophy of religion i guess.  my advisor does philosophy and theology.  that’s what i want to do too.  

i’m reading nietzsche tonight so i can write my thesis.  i can still turn in my thesis!  that’s the good news.  bad news is that i have to turn it in on monday.  yup.  monday.  oh boy oh boy!

as i was doing research for my thesis i found some books on meaning of life.  if you write a book saying that life is meaningless will someone still publish it?  at the moment if i were to write a book about life i’d probably write that it was meaningless rather than meaningful.  good thing no one is asking me to write a publishable book right now.  

few words

how could i have nothing to write about, right?  i don’t know, lately i wanted to write a blog but couldn’t think of interesting enough things to write about.  but then again maybe what i write isn’t really all that interesting in some sense.  it’s still valuable to me that i can express myself and that i am connecting with others with the blogs.

in my wednesday group, someone mentioned how she can’t write anymore.  to be precise, she said she couldn’t write anything good anymore.  i told her that even if right now she feels that she can’t write anything interesting that the process of writing is still valuable.  and i really believe that.  i don’t think creative moments just strike us very often.  instead, when we do “creative” things regularly, once we start doing it then we might find that creative juices start to flow.

i think i read an interview somewhere where the artist says that he or she religiously paints or writes and sticks to a rigorous work hours whether he or she feels creative or not.  it’s true, when you start to write or paint or whatever, sometimes the sense of creativity and energy may come after you start, as you are engaged in the process.

i think maybe i have not been thinking about things so that i can avoid questions about the “meaning” of my life.  i don’t know if i can finish my program, if i finished what i am going to do after i finish, and more importantly, what i would like to do with my life.  living each day, trying to be productive each day is what i’ve been trying to do.  maybe that’s all i can do at the moment.

why not?

the best response to the question “why live?” that i can think of is, “why not?”  it’s all the same isn’t it in someways.  whether i’m dead or alive life goes on for the rest of the world.  i may make a difference for those who know me, i.e., friends and family.  but i guess i wonder what purpose my life has.  i don’t have an answer to that big question.  all i know is that i’m breathing today and as long as i’m breathing, i have to do something.  i can’t sleep all day although i’m pretty good at that.  i mean i really can’t sleep all day everyday.  while i’m here i might have to come up with something meaningful to occupy my waking moments.

hmmm

i don’t feel too good this morning. i got a great start at 7 am. but then i don’t know what happened! i think i made the mistake of thinking about the meaning of life. it’s rather upsetting to think about the lack of meaning in my life.

my intensive group therapy ends in 2 days. i can’t believe how fast 6 weeks went by. i’ll miss my group members! i wonder if the skills i learned in the program will help me cope. i had a meeting with the group leader for the new group i’ll be doing starting this wednesday. we went over my history and i suppose that was a bit triggering. there are just somethings left better unsaid. but then when you go over your medical history, like how many times i’ve been in the hospital, how can you ignore it?

everything seems so hard today.