moments that take our breath away

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"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, 
but by the moments that take our breath away." ― Maya Angelou 

today has been an instance where my breath has been stolen from my lungs, my heart found pumping to a heavier rhythm on this day, than it was just yesterday.

early this morning maya angelou, poet, civil rights activist, feminist, among other things, passed away from this earth, and entered into the next life. i don't even know how to hold this moment, as her words changed so many lives for the better; her light has now gone onward to light another sphere, another place. i shake my head in disbelief, and thank the lord she lived a full, long, well loved and well lived life. she was such an awe-inspiring, beautiful, warrior-poet of a woman. the world needs more women and men like her, as she was utterly fluent in the language of love and the human soul, as we should all hope to be. i know that as a writer myself i hope to someday reflect maya in some small way.

i am reeling, wandering and wondering, as i entertain every thought of beginnings and endings and the what-after-thats. and i am strangely light of heart, and yet still feeling like there is a lesser beating, a collapse of heart in my chest. i can see both sides of this circle of life, like i always do. i see light and dark and old and new. i see a purpose beyond my comprehension or human reckoning, and oddly i do not love or hate this feeling. it's just sort of there, and i'm just sort of here today. and i'm doing what i feel like i can do. i can write, and reel, and heal, and speak words of comforting love to myself and you and whoever else is reading this and is struggling with an unknowing heart.

this is for you. this is for me. in a way, this is for maya angelou, and it's for a few other beloved ones, too.

mary and snuggles
it's also about those that have been loved a short time and lost, like my sister's beautiful grey fuzzy bunny named snuggles, who also passed this morning, after having lived the best week of her life. that bunny was loved dearly by my sweet, brave, caring baby sister. mary, it will be okay, even if its not okay, okay?

it's a day that has me reflecting upon my eighty-four year old grandfather, the man who after just having had two mini strokes and having had to have been hospitalized a few weeks ago right before my twenty-fifth birthday, has started smoking his cancer sticks again, even though he'd said to me and my husband "it scared the hell out of me!" nothing can keep my grandfather down, but he is smoking again, working out in the yard doing what he loves, which is gardening and mowing and watering the lawn religiously, despite the doctors and my grandmothers orders to live his remaining days in a more sedentary way, in his recliner. he is currently writing out his last wills and testaments, for my grandma to sign as witness. and this shatters me with disbelief, that someday, perhaps soon, he won't be here anymore to tell us about gardening, farming life during the Great Depression, or about the wars in Vietnam and Korea.

and then i think about my husbands grandmother. she is becoming encased in her own body, by a disease that sounds like some cruel man's name (Lou Gehrig's disease) and it is no joke. and it's unsettling to see her this way, tubes and machines and a wheelchair . . . her playing word charades with us, to her discomfort between breaths, gasping to speak. i grasp my husbands hands tightly these days, and reassure him that he'll make it through, but it's still not fair for her or for him. and my husband's father goes to see his mother as often as he can . . . five hours up the road to the mountains, in between all of his many responsibilities as a pastoring shepherd over his own flock. we don't know how much more time we have with mammaw. months, days, hours? so we cherish every moment we have with her, and pray her though her pain. that is all we can do, but somehow i feel as if its not enough.

it's not really fair that we lose those that inspire, those who breath life into our lungs, those who, had they not been born, neither would we have been, and yes, it's not even fair when we lose the precious animal lives we love. yet somehow death is supposed to be fair, but try telling that to the person who is thick in the reckoning and grief of it all, to the person who sees death coming for the person they love and has to declare it purposeful, God's will, beyond our understanding. it is not easy saying goodbye, even when you know another hello is in your distant or maybe, possibly, unknown near future.

death is just another mystery we cannot yet comprehend. so today i sit here, just me and my jesus, struggling to breathe in the mystery and unknowingness of it all. and i look for another grand moment to take my breath away. in the end this circle of life and death, beginning and ending, well, it's really sort of a tragically beautiful creature in its own way.

for those we lose in death are the ones who teach us how to live. 


  1. beautiful, as always, Sarah. thanks for this.

  2. AnonymousMay 28, 2014

    ((hugs)) This was so poignant, friend. Keeping you all in my prayers. <3

  3. I agree with Meghan-very poignant.

  4. Sarah, you have beautifully expressed all our hearts with the passing of a great woman. Maya Angelou has influenced many, many peoples and cultures, and certainly me. She's Victoria's favorite author and writing mentor. We were blessed to hear Maya reading some of her works at a Los Angeles’ annual book convention about 14 or 15 years ago when we lived in Long Beach, California.

    Your reflections touched on many of our recent losses, both human and animal, and enriched us in the reading. Our hearts and prayers also go out to dear Mary at this time. It wasn’t that long ago we lost our precious, sweet girl-cat, Mimi-Sita, in a cold January rainstorm. Whenever it rains now, which has been often lately, it is bittersweet. Yet, as we watch the rain pelt down we imagine God’s rainy tears mingling with ours and are somewhat comforted.

    Thank you for sharing your heart and for honoring all those who grieve.

    Know you are always in our love and prayers. <:
    Ruth, Victoria and the 4 Cat-Kids (Jingles, Jeffrey, Smokey, and Ginger-Snap) :)


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