Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lessons of the Lilly

So, I have a confession.
And it's not like last time...okay, it sort of is.
But I won't beat around the bush like last time. And Nutella, you'll just have to suck it up and deal with this fact, but the truth is...

I Love old people.
All old people, yes, but specifically a woman named Alice Lillywhite. I've been visiting her every Thursday this semester, and how my love for her has grown! Her birthday is next week and she will be 102 years old. Did you hear me?! A hundred and Two years old! She's beat a century by two years!

Her mind is sharp and she can see to read, hear with a hearing-aid, and she has her own teeth still. Every week I go and tell her about my life, and in turn she tells me about hers. It's a trade-off, but I think I've got the better deal, but she might disagree. I love to hear about what living through all the drama of the past century has been like, and then she's usually cheerful and happy to hear all the fun things I tell her I'm involved with.

But today she was sad.

She's been wanting to do stuff, like dance and walk and go places, and it makes her sad that she can't. Today was the first time I was with her where she's ever hinted she thinks about death.
I perceived that she's getting close to being ready to go.
And so I asked her about it.

This sparked an incredible conversation. We speculated what it would be like on the other side, what callings she'd like to do, what she'd like to learn. She didn't know much, I guessed it'd be a party up in heaven with all our family and awesome scripture people and stuff. She admitted she didn't know, but one thing she really is concerned about is her husband.

She iterated that she misses him and hopes he'll be the one to bring her home. I asked her if it hurt her to talk about her husband. She said most people think it does, so they don't bring him up. But she said it doesn't. She likes to talk about him. And so we did. I gathered that she loved him very much. I guess "loves" would be the proper tense.

I asked her then things that before I had been afraid to ask. I asked her what she's done in her life that she liked best; her favorite experiences. She said she's seen some beautiful places and heard beautiful music. She also mentioned childbirth in there somewhere. I cringed, she laughed.

It's interesting, the two of us together. One just setting out on the adventure of her life, the other nearing her journey's end; preparing for the next step.

Talking to her made me think about my life; my future; my present. Alice has had a good life. She had her hard spots, yes, but the Lord got her through it, and she still lives to tell the tale. She said to me, "You don't know what will happen. But you have to make the best of it, whatever it is."
She also told me that one of her biggest regrets is not enjoying the time she had with her husband while she had it. Or rather, not enjoying it more fully. She said she had it in her head that he would always be around, that their marriage would last forever (and technically it does--thank goodness for the temple). But then he died and left her to live 40 years without him. I told her when she sees him she should stick out her tongue saying, "I beat you! I won!" She shook her head and said with a twinge of regret, "No, I'd ask him why did he leave so soon?"

I admire her strength and her courage. I hope I can have the joy Alice has had,see the beautiful places, hear the beautiful music, experience the love and devotion she's known, and add my own special flavor to it all. I hope I can love someone as much as Alice loves her husband. I hope someone will love me just the same. I hope I can remember to make the best of whatever happens and enjoy the life I live, while I live it. So far I think I've been doing a pretty good job. (:

Life flies by fast. It seems like just yesterday I was kissing my brother goodbye as I left for college, but here I am, two semesters gone, headed for London, creating a theatre workshop, paying next year's rent.
The next few years are going to go just as fast. We won't remember details, but we will remember how we felt throughout our experiences. We will remember whether we lived la vie en rose, ou la vie c'est triste. Just like Alice we will remember the beautiful things we've seen and the great love we've felt.
And the joy that we've shared on the journey.

2 Nephi 2:25

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