I spent several hours this afternoon at the bedside of my aunt, who took a fall last night and broke her hip. We don't know if surgery is an option or not, and we're waiting to see what happens. I was deeply touched to see her granddaughters gather around her hospital bed, just showing their love and support, wanting to do whatever they could to help her. Aunts and uncles came in and it was almost like a family reunion at the hospital.
This morning I sat in church and glanced behind me to see a new baby asleep in his father's arms. The baby was probably about two months old, with fat little cheeks, and he looked utterly content. He knew he was safe, he knew he was loved, and he was watched over and protected in his slumber.
Last June, I heard the news I never wanted to hear - my father has cancer. He's been on chemotherapy, but the doctors aren't holding out a great deal of hope. I count every minute as gold right now.
I can't help but think tonight about the cycle of life. We come into the world as helpless infants, completely dependent on our families for everything we have and for our every need. We are tiny, we are valuable, we are precious. Then as we grow up, each breath we take is a blessing. Our bodies, our ability to walk and talk - it's all a miracle. At the end of our lives, we have years of experiences to our credit, and we are every bit as precious as we were as infants. Our lives have impacted those around us. We have touched hearts through our words and actions.
I have been present at birth and at death. I consider each to be a sacred event, touched by the hands of angels bringing the new souls in and ushering the experienced souls out. Heaven draws very near to earth in those moments, reminding me that life is a gift, a treasure, and life is sacred.
I don't know what the outcome will be for my aunt, or for my dad. But I do know this - I will continue to cherish life every day. I will be grateful for each moment I get to spend with my loved ones. I will recognize the family ties that bind us together, wherever we may be, on this side of the veil or that one.
Life is truly a beautiful gift.