Apprentice Angel of Death

When I'm dead-heading roses in the church rose garden by myself, it's a peaceful, contemplative exercise. Even when I'm donating blood to the thorns and roots of the cranky little bushes, it's a good time to think as I work.

When I'm dead-heading roses in the church rose garden with an eager seven-year-old in his work gloves really wanting to help, I felt more like the angel of death with a really, really willing apprentice who, occasionally would say, "Wow, that's a pretty one, can we take that one, too?"

Given that we were using that nomenclature, too, it was mildly surreal. And Jet cheerfully took everything I told him to, and commented that it was hard to tell which ones needed to be cut off and which ones could be left. At one point he said, "Well, maybe we should just cut off all the flowers because they're all going to die anyway."

And I just held my head in my hands and counted five.

He had a point.

But... he listened when I said that I really wanted to leave most of them so that the plants could be pretty for everyone else to enjoy. The buds would take a while longer to open than a week, so we shouldn't cut them all off.

There was one point where I did say, "Cut all of these pink ones."

And when I turned around he'd done not just the branch I'd pointed at but two more, including a brand newly opened bud and when I reacted with horror, he said, "But, Mom, you said all the pink ones."

I backed off, as I HAD said those words, and one additional word might just not have been picked up. When I said that we could take a few of the newer ones to take home and keep for ourselves, he offered the one he'd taken by mistake. It was pretty obvious he understood what was going on, and so we took that one home in a tiny plastic cup and it now graces our breakfast table with its fragrance and grace of the last days of its life.

It's odd, now, these last few days, to suddenly realize that for the previous three months I was thinking "okay, what if I am going to die in the next five years... is this what I really want to do" a lot more often than I realized. Because now I keep thinking, "Wow... I don't have to worry about not living to see this finished" way more often than I thought I would be.

One interesting thing is realizing that for the last three months I've pretty strictly prioritized myself to time with people I love, time to exercise, and time to create. Period. Vacations, sleep, and volunteer work all went over the edge of "not worth it anymore". And now I realize that I was really acting, hard, on what was important to me, not just what was urgent or what other people needed or wanted. It's a new feeling for me.

It's pretty good, too. It was easy to say "No." when I thought my time was limited, but the habit is now formed, and it's easier to just say no to volunteer work that doesn't really matter to me as much. I'll probably still do the spring trip to Biloxi and possibly even a fall trip as things are starting to shape up on that front. But the OUR center garden, which has a bunch of other volunteers, and church work that other people could do, I am just saying no to with far more frequency and less self-doubt than before.

I need to create. Far more than I knew of myself before.
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It's when you have the possibility of being dead shoved into your face that you realize how much of yourself you give to others ahead of what you may need to do for yourself.

I had that happen with my second stroke and is why I live more for me now rather than trying to make everyone around me happy (which couldn't be accomplished anyway). I figure I have two choices:
1. be happy with myself and my state of being and possibly annoy/disappoint others a little bit
2. make everybody else happy and sacrifice my desires for them

not really a hard choice when you think of it.
Yeah, I guess I just never really thought of it before, as you put it, having the possibility shoved into my head.

It's now a whole lot clearer. *grins* And easier to fight the old obligations, I think, than before.

And, yeah, about not actually being able to make *everyone* around me happy. It's utterly applicable to fic as well. Now I'm more free to write what simply makes myself happy rather than other people happy... and that's... really amazing.
Now I'm more free to write what simply makes myself happy rather than other people happy... and that's... really amazing.

It is very freeing to make that realization. Less writer wangst, too *snicker*.
Now I can't help picturing Jet as the cutest Shinigami Ever. :)
*giggles so much*

Yeah, he was a very, very cute and very, very terrifying Shinigami. *laughs* No judgment, just... oooo... I want to cut that one.

But he learned fast and did really well, and when I asked him to put down the bucket so he could use one hand to separate out the one he wanted to cut from the other buds he was like Oooo... yeah. That makes sense! Whew. Otherwise we'd have a few more buds in our vase, I suspect.
*hugs close* First of all You and Jet dead heading the roses I can see it in my minds eye perfectly.

and Sweetie I am so glad that you are no longer thinking you are going to die soon *hugs again* I am however glad that going through that worry helped you learn to say no because it was a lesson you needed
*hugs close and warmly back* Hee. It was kind of fun, too.

Yeah, I'm glad of both of those things, too. Whew.
I've had a number of eye-openers these past few years - most of them not as shockingly profound, but more that a lot of smaller epiphanies eventually guided me to a larger realization. That sounds kinda hokey, but that's how it was. Anyway, the point is that I'm trying to take the lessons that I've learned, and the lessons that my friends have learned (like this one you've shared here) and apply them in my life now.

Each little thing we do to balance our priorities adds up to a lot more than we'd expect. I think when we start doing that, we can see a whole lot more clearly what's really important. For me, I wound up seeing that quite a lot of things I'd once considered earth-shakingly vital simply weren't worth my time and energy after all. Removing even a few of those negative influences from my life made a vast improvement, in my life and in me.

I'm so pleased for you, that your difficult journey has had such a reward. :)
Mmmm... yes. That makes a whole lot of sense to me where I am now. Cool that you're taking it all up for yourself, too.

*smiles* I'm pretty happy about what I got out of it, too. It's... bemusing sometimes, but all good.
Well I'm trying, but it's hard sometimes. The lessons hardest learned are the ones that stick with us the most, and it seems sometimes I absolutely must learn them the hard way.

Bemusing is an interesting way of looking at it. I can only imagine how surreal it is to think you may have only a short time left, and then suddenly have that lifted away. I honestly have no idea how I'd truly react, but from this vantage point I think I'd probably have a breakdown of epic proportions as my mental state absorbed and reset.

*eyes Shunsui's breakdown in the next chapter* No wonder. Uhm. Hm. I seem to just be *writing* more. *laughs*

Yeah, I've been pretty good about learning a lot of lessons through the consequences other people eat, but the taking care of me or my needs has always been one that didn't stick. So having it be the hard way has been enlightening in a way I don't think anything else would have been.
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. I bet you'd enjoy it if you haven't already.

I'm glad you feel solidly into your creativity.
Mmm... I shall have to look it up. Okay, after looking it up, it's on my library hold list now. *laughs*

Yeah. I am, too. It's... different than it was. Odd to realize that there are things in reality, now, that simply would not have existed without me. Some of them things that are actually valuable or beautiful or interesting to others. That's... remarkable for me. *laughs*

Edited at 2008-09-04 01:48 am (UTC)
Ah yes - helper kids! Think fast! What can they do that will not damage or slow things up too much? They are not stupid. They will know if you suggest something superfluous. Working with kids can be a lot of fun but peaceful and contemplative it is not. :D

Interesting that vacations and sleep became not worth it. XD I'm happy that creating made the short list of keepers.

Exactly, wow do you have it right on the dot. And he was fast and effective and really wanted to do the Real Thing not make work... and yes... contemplative it was not, but it was good and fun and we got done pretty quick when Dad came along and did the 'spotting' for Jet and they discussed what made for one to cut and one not to cut. So that was even better after a while.

Yeah... I resented the trips we were taking, which was odd to realize now. Sleep kept taking a back seat to "I have this part of the story *now*" and there's something in the back of my head that really incorporates the "I can sleep when I'm dead" phrase. Plus, when I used to get into crunch time at work, I couldn't sleep more than six hours a night, because I'd be up needing to work after that. And I found myself doing that with the writing... *laughs*

Yeah. I'm happy, too. *grins* It's still there.
What a sweet little boy you have. I love it when mine actually want to help even though ultimately it takes so much more time and patience on my part. It still makes it all so much more interesting.

I'm so happy you've found a way to prioritize the important events in your life and still get to enjoy it without thoughts of death hanging over your head.

I was very fortunate growing up. My parents set the perfect example of always putting our family first, so it was easy for me to do the same. So, I do understand the freedom of saying no when you need to. So good for you!
He is a really great kid and I learn a lot from him.

Yeah, I totally agree about being able to prioritize without having death hanging *right* over my head. *laughs* Much, much less stressful.

Wow... that is *cool* to have had parents like that. With Mom and Dad working when I was a kid, it was... oddly hard.

Yeah... no seems like a really important thing to be able to say...