Happy Friday! Paul Sees the World will now offer a post by a guest writer on Fridays, as Feature Fridays!

This week’s guest post is from Judy Smith. Judy is a good friend, neighbor, and fellow Rotarian of Paul’s.

As submitted by author Judy Smith on March 28, 2019:

Layers of Life

There is a hole in my heart. The sound of the wind rushing through the gaping hole is deafening at times. My tears try in vain to plug up that hole and stem the heart ache.

A month ago Paul left this world too suddenly for many who know him well. Hearing the news of his passing felt like a kick in the gut. Intellectually, I knew the end was near, but my heart was not ready. We had so much to talk about because we had so much in common. Cooking, gardening, fine dining, local politics, Rotary, travel and even our day jobs in the world of corporate training – there was always an engaging topic when we met.

The idea of writing had also been brewing within me as I am an artist and photographer. To date my storytelling has been with photos, drawing and sculpture. And now with words. Paul had invited me to try my hand with blog writing and WordPress last year. While I love to write and journal, I was nervous about going public. He had said he would guide me, and now I look to him as a guardian angel as I compose this blog post.

Layers of Life - Arran Scotland

This image is from a trip to Scotland – one of my favorite countries to visit. The abstract imagery seemed appropriate here as there are many complex layers – much like life and death. I was one of Paul’s caregivers in the last year of his life. My medical knowledge as an RN and my experiences to date as a cancer survivor made Paul want to pick my brain endlessly after I gave him his anticoagulant shots which were part of his post op treatments.

After a time, he needed distraction from his own whirling thoughts of his disease process and prognosis. It was then we turned to talk of travel and food. His Mom’s family is from Portugal and I had planned a trip to Spain and Portugal last summer. In preparation for my trip, Paul advised me about food and wine to look for, restaurants in Lisbon to book a table and sites overlooking the Atlantic to visit near Sintra. The distraction with this topic did us both good. I returned from my trip in June with many photos and more stories to share with Paul.

I have witnessed death before in my life – watching someone take their last breath is a powerful experience. We all can learn from a loved one’s death. Reflecting on our own views, watching how a loved one copes with their own imminent demise, supporting other friends and family struggling with their own feelings – the process is painful, but at the same time can be cleansing. The key is to not let your grief define you as a person forever. Acknowledge your own humanity and your grief and the passing of life. But let it pass through you. The hole in your heart will eventually heal. How long that takes is unique to each person. There is no one size fits all with grief, so do not feel guilty or pass judgement on yourself. Try to focus on the positive. Paul has brought me closer to several people as a result of his illness and death. I am blessed to better know these people.

There was a hole in my heart. It is healing now. The garden beckons. Paul’s spirit is near. Time to plant the seeds for future bounty to share with friends at my table.