Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On love... death... grief... life + justice

I hope you all had an incredible and relaxing labor day.
I'm sure you've heard of Michael Clarke's death yesterday. It was really interesting to watch timelines fill up with the news of his passing from so many people, including those who had never even seen his work.
It was also hard, because a woman that I have admired and been inspired, encouraged and challenged by excessively also passed away yesterday, ending her 2.5 year battle with cancer. Shelli was just the most incredible woman. I'm literally crying as I type this, and I hadn't even seen her in probably 7 years. I spent some time with her wonderful family in Pirmasens, Germany several years ago and we've only kept in contact through facebook + email since then.
Everyone who knew Shelli loved her. Everyone. Her husband, Joe, shared that the nurses who cared for his wife told him (well before she died) that in their industry, they have to learn to stop caring and to separate their work from their emotions. I've had this conversation several times with my friend Kelly who is a wonderful nurse and often has to see people die. She can't save everyone. It's essential for her not to become emotionally involved, because otherwise she wouldn't be able to do her job well. If you are in the medical field, I don't need to elaborate, and if you aren't I'm still sure you understand. However, these nurses who cared for Shelli told Joe that she made them feel again.
And honestly, I don't see how she couldn't have. Her life. Her vibrant, passionate, all-in, loving, compassionate, warm, adventurous life could speak to even the coldest, most distant soul.
And here, I see post after post about Michael Clarke, while Shelli will go unrecognized by the world at large. I say 'at large' because her influence was so beyond cross-cultural. It was extremely global. I don't mean that Michael Clarke shouldn't be mourned, no not at all. But it is hard to swallow the injustice of equally important lives mourned less. All human life is beyond valuable.
Life is so precious. It's such a gift. And we just aren't promised a tomorrow, no matter how young, healthy, rich, famous or careful we are.
You'll have to excuse me today. My brain is just so full and I can't seem to articulate or express correctly the millions of thoughts swirling around. I love people. By consequence, I hate death. I think death is the meanest trick life plays. I also struggle with the injustice of death... watching the wonderful, most giving people on earth pass years before their natural time and with families and friends who will sorely miss them.
I keep singing Brooke Fraser's song, "flags" to myself. She rolls through all of these same thoughts and emotions and there's a sort of comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one who feels this way. (video below if you want to listen to it)
"Come, tell me your troubles. I'm not your answer, but I'm a listening ear. Reality has left you reeling. All facts and no feeling. No faith and all fear. I don't know the good man will fall, while the wicked one stands... and our lives blow about like flags on the land...
I don't know why the innocents fall, while the monster still stands. And our lives blow about like flags on the land. I don't know why are words are so proud... yet the promise so thin. And our lives blow about like flags in the wind...
You who mourn will be comforted. You who hunger will hunger no more. Oh the last shall be first, of this I am sure. You who weep now will laugh again. Oh you lowly, be lowly no more. Yes the last will be first, of this I am sure.
I don't know why the innocents fall, while the monsters stand. I don't know why the little ones thirst, but I know the last shall be first."
So beautifully written, so true. There can be so much injustice in the world. When I face these impossibly hard situations, I really have to stick to what I *do* know to be true, and to what I am absolutely sure of. Because to be honest, why a woman like Shelli with an adoring husband + two children would die so young will never make any sense to me. But I do know that "the last will be first" and that Shelli was most certainly a servant who made herself last so that others could be first.
Remembering Shelli today. Desperately wanting to live like Shelli... leaving a sweet smelling scent everywhere I go. Loving people. Really, really loving them. Being honest, upright, kind, and compassionate to all I meet.
And also wanting to hug everyone I love, very tightly. Remind them (and myself) of how much I love them and why.
Is there anyone you have lost and want to honor? I'd love to turn the comment section into a celebration of lives today. Maybe the entire world won't be able to hear about their lives, but we can remember them and share with each other.
I'm always grateful to you readers as well. Thank you so much for coming along and sharing life with me. Thank you for reading especially today. I try not to do this often, but Shelli just deserves it so much. Her life is worth remembering, and imitating.


  1. Auna I have no words of understanding or comfort when the people we love pass away. I do think that your grief, love, and desire to keep her memory alive is a wonderful testament to your beloved friend's life. I hope that her friends and family find comfort in their sorrow. Blessings~Becky

    1. Becky, I feel the same way... how do you soothe a person's grief after losing a loved one? There are no words. My grief for Shelli is actually for her family and the whole world. A light has gone out and her communities will always miss that light.

  2. Hi "little sister!" I always read your blogs and today I was inspired to share with you a death that changed me after reading this one. I had a close friend, Ray, who was as dear to me a friend as your brother Nick, and not a day goes by that I dont think of him. I met Ray in 2004 when I first moved to Colorado. We became instant friends. He was sweet, had a good sense of humor which I highly value in a person, and he was incredibly caring and giving. Not soon after I moved there, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an auto immune disease not unlike crohns that is incredibly debilitating and unfortunately has no cure. I was alone and scared, my family being thousands of miles away, and I didnt have a huge support group as I had just moved there and didnt know many people. Ray came to visit me not only every single day I was in the hospital, and trust me I was there every month for a year, with my visits being several weeks straight at a time, but he would always bring me flowers, and convince the hospital staff to let him have a cot so he could sleep in my room with me so I wouldnt be alone and scared. One time I was admitted in the hospital at 3 AM and Ray, having been out that night drinking and couldnt drive, convinced his mother to drive him to the hospital so he could sit with me. He even somehow found flowers at that incredibly early hour to give to me as well. Clearly you can see how thoughtful and caring this man was. We spent so much time together that year, endless nights hanging out and talking, memories I hold with me to this day and hope to never lose. In the summer of 2005, my illness still an ongoing problem that seemed to have no end, my world came crashing down on me. On July 29 of that year I got the call that Ray was dead. He was only 21. To this day I still dont know what happened. Ray had friends over to his apartment. They had been drinking. I know Ray had guns because he would go shooting with his big brothers and he showed them to me several times. I assume him and his friends were playing around with them, the gun went off and hit Ray, who died instantly. A senseless death. Ive never gotten over it and I never will. I couldnt understand how this wonderful, genuine, giving human being could be taken from me, from his family, from the world. He had so much goodness. It just doesnt make sense. Im also writing these words on what would have been his 29th birthday. I love Ray and I always will. He is in my heart, he is in my soul. I hope one day we meet again, and that wherever he is, he's happy and smiling.

    1. Jules- you're breaking my heart! :( I can't imagine you all alone out there... you should have come back to us and we would have taken very good care of you. But I'm so happy that you had Ray to keep you loved and comforted during. What a shame. 21 is just so, so young. It's really something to think about, one little decision, one little night... and the end of a life. Poor Ray. I'm sure you carry his sweet, loving, caring spirit with you- as you are all three of those things as well. Love to you!!!

  3. I'm sorry for your loss.
    My mom was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer last year and its just such a struggle some days but other days its such a learning experience. It gives everyone a way up call to live life because these things do happen. Its not just for the movies.
    I hope you can celebrate her life as well as mourn for her.
    Best of luck,

    1. Ashley- thanks for your kind words. And I'm sending lots of warmth and comfort and strength and discernment your way as you walk with your mom through your own journey with your mom + family. <3

  4. Thanks for your tribute to my Bride. I just saw this as I sit here making final preparations for the Celebration Service for my Best Friend and Companion of 25 years. Allow me to slightly alter an adage that you and I use to say to each other in Germany (said in a Greek accent)... "There are only two kinds of people in the world... Those who know Shelli and those who wish they did..."

    1. Joe I just so desperately wish we could hug your neck and the treasures today. Sending so, so much love. And I hope you know that so many people were inspired by Shelli in such an impacting and unforgettable way. I will always, always carry her in my heart and strive to inspire people like her. So much love goes to your family... and you're right. Those of us who had the pleasure of knowing Shelli on earth will be so much better off-- we are blesed! <3


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