My beloved teacher, Doug Silsbee, is dying from cancer.

Last week, his wife, Walker, wrote to the Presence-Based Coaching community, which Doug founded and nurtured, that they recently decided to stop treatment and start hospice.  My heart hurts with this news. Soon, Doug will die.

This wise and gentle man who taught me through his presence to embody humility, who shared a container for coaching that has transformed how I work. His work will live on through so many of us, but my heart cries with the news that he will not.

My heart hurts, too, with the reminder that someday, my son will die, and my partner will die, and I will die.

I ask myself—When I truly wrap my mind and heart around the fact that someday, I will seize to exist, do I feel called to change anything about my life right now?

Yes, I might savor my time with my son a bit more. An important remember to pause and enjoy.

Besides that, I’m blessed with the realization that at this point, I’d change almost nothing about how I’m living my life. That wouldn’t have always been my answer.

Then, I wonder— What would change if we did live forever? Do the limits make this existence even more beautiful? Would we be more likely to squander our days?

My heart hurts to imagine Walker, sitting with Doug as he moves through his final days. To witness the momentary beauty that Doug sees. To not yet descend into grief. To cherish the last moments. To feel all the intensity of the both-and.

How much choice do you have about how you feel while you care for your beloved during their final days?

Perhaps accepting the sadness—and the fear— is the practice. Being with the sensations of the heart and allowing them to arise without censoring. Allowing. Feeling. The emotions that come without bidding.

I cannot know what it is like to be her, or him, right now.
And yet, my heart hurts for them both.
And for me.

The part of me who would love to live forever asks— Why do we die?

Another part answers— Perhaps to create space for new life. The other day, I saw a TED talk that imagined a life in which humans lived for hundreds of years and death was a rare affliction. It made me wonder if the science fiction folks who wish for a world where no one ever dies have children. I mean, if humans never died, then it would be unethical to have new children, wouldn’t it? And, as someone who’s found some of my greatest joys in life as a mama, that reality sounds grim.

Perhaps the acknowledgment of death can bring presence, at the very least.

A gratitude for each moment. A slowing down and savoring and understanding of the preciousness of each breath.

The sky on the other side of the sunrise is beautiful as I write this. I am so blessed to live on this precious planet in this moment in time. So much beauty. And so much change. As Octavia Butler wrote, “god is change.

If you’re facing a big decision and feel stuck, I invite you to check out our professional coaching programs and explore the possibility of receiving support.


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