THE Eulogy, as promised

My Dad’s life celebration, funeral and burial were 12/27/17.  My brothers and I delivered eulogies in his honor.  Each one was vastly different, yet all touched the heart deeply.  We decided to speak in birth order, which left me last, as I am the youngest.  I practiced my speech a few times and became tearful about half way through.  What I had not taken into account was that I would be listening to the heartfelt messages of my brothers beforehand.

When it came to my turn to speak, I was already crying.  As I took my spot on stage, attempted to compose myself,  and looked out into the chapel pews to find kind eyes on me.  I smiled, took a deep breath and thanked my brothers for setting the stage for me to bring the house down.  As the crowd laughed as I expressed my concerns and a promise that went something like this, “I am Kristin, the youngest.  You may or may not be able to understand word I have to say today.  I promise to post this eulogy on my blog so you can read it if you desire.”  They all laughed as I looked down at my speech, wiped my tears, took the deepest inhale I had all day, and began to read the following:

I have been saying a slow goodbye to my dad for the past 7 years due to a disease that was caused by exposure to Agent Orange while protecting our freedom in Vietnam before I was even born.  Doing the right thing for what you believe in is not always easy and can bring about side effects you can’t foresee.  In that long goodbye I was gifted with the opportunity to help in ways I would never have had. My college education which he and mom paid for in occupational therapy actually paid off literally in his care.  Being his advocate after being taken care of by him was an amazing experience. After I received the call that he was  in hospice care, I drove down to be with him thinking I have said everything I wanted to say.  Peace washed over me, and then I walked into his room only to realize I had a lot more to say.  

Everything he tired to tell me that truly mattered over the past 7 years were highlighted in the last 48 hours of his life.  I will cherish the precious connected moments for as long as I live. Love is all that matters!  Love is in connection that is best found small moments and shared experiences.

Your body fails, your bank account becomes secondary, your status doesn’t make a bit of difference in the end of your life journey.  The body is just a shell that carries around your amazing spirit. Yes, take care of it so it can carry you on this great planet to connect with others, but don’t get too attached to it.  Because, some forms of love can only come into your life when your body fails you. The care dad received at the VA and Trinity Oaks proved that many times over.

2 yrs ago I took a trip to Zion National Park and completed the most strenuous hike of my life, Angel’s Landing.  Roughly 20 years early Dad and Uncle Alan did that hike together on a trip out West. After I complete the hike, I stopped by a rock shop and a purchased a heart shaped stone made from the local sedimentary rock.  Dad and I shared many stories of that shared accomplishment.  In true hippie fashion, I brought it with me and placed that rock on his heart and told him the story one more time as I lay next to him.  At one point,  he reached up and held on to the rock, took a deep breath and finally rested peacefully.  The sound of his breathing was beautiful.

At another point in those last days, he whispered “Cold” to me.  I placed a blanket over him and leaned close to ask if that was better.  He looked at me, lifted his head and kissed me.  As he held my gaze better than he had in months, I told him how much I love him, how proud I am of him, how amazing of a man he is and how thankful I am for his love.  He looked at me and cried as I continued to tell him all the ways I adore him.  Tears flowed down both of our cheeks as I spoke from my heart to his.

One evening while mom held his hand, he reached with his other hand to draw her closer to him.  Witnessing this raw authentic love was a precious gift and reminder that the simple gestures of love and connection speak volumes.

He showed me that we just want to be seen and loved for who we are, yet sometimes we get in the way.  You are loved more than you know.   Mountains were meant to be climbed not carried.   I strive to finally let all of the worry go so love can rush in,  for love and connection to others makes this life worth living.

I looked up as I concluded and there was not a dry eye in the house.  The rest of the ceremony was perfect and then concluded with full military honors at the grave side burial.  The 21 gun salute brought about faster flowing tears.  The presentation of the flag and 3 bullet shells to Mom brought about uncontrollable sobbing.

The reception, story sharing, love and alcohol rounded out an incredible day to honor Dad, his life and the love he created.  If your Dad is still breathing, call him and tell him you love him for all of us who can’t call our dads!

Namaste!
Kristin Springfield
Daughter

 

Love is all that matters

My dad passed away on December 8th peacefully while surrounded with love in his sleep. I feel joy and relief for him, as he is no longer trapped in a body or mind that no longer allowed him to enjoy life.  He was loved fully by everyone who met him and by those who helped take care of him in his last months of declining health.   The love that surrounded him in his final days will stay with me forever, for in the end, love really is all that matters.

Yet, I am still here on earth navigating the beautiful mess of a perfectly imperfect life. I have to say that I am exhausted in a way that reminds me of life with a new born except no one is waking me up every 2 hours. It is hard to explain.

The tidal wave of love that has found its way to me through friends and family is amazing and daunting at the same time. Much of my adult life I believed that I was not worthy of love. It has only been in the past few years that I no longer accept that to be true, yet actually receiving love brings tears to my eyes every time. Friday I received a basket full of personal loving gifts from my work family to help me through this time. I burst into tears at the kindness and love in my direction. Those tears continued throughout the weekend as love showed up in cards, hugs and honest conversations about what to expect over the next few months. The authenticity cuts right through the bull shit of my thoughts trying to push away the love coming at me and speaks to my heart and soul in such a way that I can’t ignore. I am reminded that humanity loves at its core, we simply need to get out of the way of our false beliefs to experience it.

Gratitude washes over me with every loving gesture I receive and witness towards others. A warning to you, if you see me crying it may be more about love than sadness.

Namaste!
Kristin Springfield
Grateful

“When you know better you do better”

Maya Angelou wrote, “When you know better you do better.” This quote sticks with me. Now that I know better, I do better. There is a disclaimer though. As I do better, that does not mean that I never fall back into old patterns. For me the doing better is recognizing my old patterns faster while taking action to rectify the situation.

I am a runner in every sense of the word. I love to run for exercise and physical health. I now run in the woods on dirt to protect my knees rather than on pavement or concrete which resulted in 2 surgeries over 10 years ago. I know better so I do better. I am also an emotional runner. When I feel unworthy I flee. When I feel that I am a burden I run away. When I interpret a situation to point in a direction that says I am insignificant I shut down emotionally in such a way that I might as well have run away. I have a habit of filling in the gaps of stories in a manner that prove my lack of worthiness, that I am a burden and insignificance without taking a moment to check out the facts of the situation or relationship.

That deep seeded negative belief that I am insignificant is still there, yet it is rarely fed. The belief that I am worthy of love and connection is growing since I consciously chose to feed that belief. The fear of being insignificant will most likely be part of my life for as long as I draw breath into my body. What I do with that belief is where the evidence of growth shows itself to me. I know so much better now because I am doing better.

Just last week I found myself in a situation where the insignificant belief was winning. I quickly filled in the gaps, told myself stories and fumbled my questions. In the heat of the moment my mind heard evidence of my unworthiness and insignificance. My heart whispered, “Take a breath. Pause. Listen.” Well, I certainly listened; unfortunately it was to my panicking mind that was in extreme flight mode. Sleep escaped me. My appetite left as it always does under stress. For the next 5 days I ran the emotional marathon that I have run many times before.

Something incredible happened at the end of the 5th day. I was in the midst of trying to wear my body out after physically running, cleaning the house and attacking the leaves of my yard. Half way through the yard work and leaf slaying, I finally heard the whisper of my heart, “Take a breath. Pause. Listen.” Thoughts of insignificance were finally growing tired and losing power. This was the moment when a loving thought process had the opportunity to be heard, “Maybe you are missing something. Consider reaching out for clarification.”

This thought arrived at the same time surrender met up with Maya Angelou in my heart, “When you know better you do better. Now do better.” I sat in stillness to be sure I heard my heart correctly and then reached out to the friend I ran away from. Guess what? The story I told myself was 95% wrong and the 5% that was right had nothing to do with me being insignificant! Coming back to listen and ask questions when fear and panic are not running the show produced a completely different outcome. It turns out that I am significant, worthy of love and connection. Hot Damn!

In this situation the positive outcome does feel great, yet it is not where the sweetness is. The glory of the moment for me is that I stopped running after just 5 days. That is amazing evidence of growth. Finally, after so many years of hard work to heal my heart, mind and soul, I explode with joy at this improvement. Now, my friend’s mind may still be spinning, but that is okay. I am doing better, because I know better!

Namaste!
Kristin Springfield
Knowing and doing better, finally!