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  • Heather Koubek

Pain=Growth- a personal journey

Today’s blog will be very personal for me. I lost my friend Jill 3 years ago in July. She was 44 when she passed. My relationship with her a was complicated one. Loving and complex. But she honored me with a place in her 10 month passage out of this world and for that I am grateful. I witnessed many miraculous things during this painful time that remain with me to this day. Things that have shaped my perception. I saw my friend take her crippling diagnosis and turn it on its ear for a while. I saw a group of women (and some men) rally immediately and give in the ways they could. I gave her my bodywork. Some gave their time; they took her to many medical appointments, shopped and cleaned, played cards with her. Some gave their parenting skills; took her son to his games, fed him dinner. I watched as the best of people came out in the worst of situations.


As I traveled with her to the end of her life, I did some deep diving into what it meant to be living. Actually living. What it meant to bear witness to a life that was ending. I recognized with great clarity that the things we have in front of us at that moment should be recognized, and not because some yogi placard says so. The things that happened yesterday and the things that may happen tomorrow can be of concern, but should not completely obstruct what is happening in each day. I promised myself that I wouldn't take with me the terror and pain I witnessed. I would absorb into my being the tenacity, kindness and love that came along with it. I thought long and hard about this. I searched my soul during those 10 months. I told someone about these revelations at that time. They told me it would be temporary- that I would soon forget and resume my cynical life as usual.


When she was gone, after I grieved, I understood something so clearly. I understood that I was allowed on this journey so that I could learn. Learn that a full life isn't always easy. That my opinion on how one should end their life doesn't mean shit in that person’s journey. I learned that I should listen better, and be more flexible. Most importantly I understood that if fear was my main take away from this, it would be a great dishonor to my friend’s painful journey.


And so. 3 years have come and gone. We are wrapping up a year and half of some pretty surreal experiences. I can honestly say that I am able to be more present. I am able to adjust the lens I look through to stay flexible with what the day has in store. I am reminded often that no one promised me a rose garden, blooming and complete. The roses get cultivated by a long, ever present, winding journey that is a life lived. The roses may have shitty seasons. Those seasons pass. Everything is temporary. So I try my best to dive deeply into the joy, hang on tenuously to the pain, and remember that there are only a few times in a life when true terror is warranted. The rest is all a moment in time. I talk to Jill often in my mind. I thank her for awakening in me all of this. When something comes along that scares or disappoints me, I remember. When I go to the Dr and the lab reports are a little wonky due to age and genetics, I remember. When I feel the creak in my bones in the morning, see the sag in my skin, or feel the sting of the nerves on the craggy scar on my shin that are still healing, I remember. When I hear an owl, or see a hawk flying gracefully above me, I remember.


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