Assumptions About Life and Death

Assumptions:  things that are accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof

There are many things we live with as givens, as assumptions that we don’t even know we believe.  Even when we do our best to live with great awareness and consciousness, they still creep in, so universally accepted in our world, that we don’t see the possibility that they could not be true.

Elizabeth Blue, assumptions, grand canyon,
Elizabeth Blue – at the Grand Canyon, January, 2012

As I was sitting with my older daughter Elizabeth last year while she was moving towards her death, I had time to reflect on many assumptions I’d made about her and her life: That she’d live a long and fulfilling life. That wherever we both lived, we’d continue to talk, communicate, and see each other. That no matter our differences and hurt feelings, we’d continue to dive deep into our inner worlds and find places in common and communicate about what we wished for, apologize for any ways we’d hurt each other, and let each other know how much we loved and appreciated each other.

In some ways the assumption about her, or any of us living a long life was foolish, having grown up close to my grandparents, who’d watched both their sons die young, my uncle and my father at ages 21 and 30; I had watched several friends die of cancer who had young children they’d planned on raising; I’d worked with people dying of cancer, including children and young adults, years before Elizabeth had been diagnosed with cancer…so I knew this was a possibility in life.  However, I believed as so many do: not to me, not to my family, not possible, please.

August 19, 2012 from Lucia Maya’s journal – Assumptions

The things i didn’t even realize i was counting on. Assuming without knowing: that Elizabeth would grow up and outlive me. That she’d have a career, whether as an English professor, as she talked about, or a body piercer, another idea that seemed more a youthful way to make some extra money, I didn’t know. Perhaps owning a vintage clothing store, or as a successful writer…

I assumed and hoped: that she would have long term relationship(s) with someone that she would love and find happiness with, that I might like, hopefully marry one of them someday, a wonderful man/woman who loves and adores her, and makes her happy, inspires her creativity, and that they would have children together. That I would have grandchildren to come visit, wherever she lived.

That we would have lots of time to talk and get along, to have intimate conversations and have times where she couldn’t stand me again. Where she desperately needed me, and times when she was so in love and busy she couldn’t answer my calls or texts.

Times where I’d worry if she was happy, had anxiety, was fulfilled, was never going to fall in love; have high enough self-esteem; recover from whatever emotional damage I’ve inflicted, or ways life traumas have wounded her…

It is this loss of the innocence, the loss of all these beliefs and assumptions and my stories of the imagined future that cause me the greatest grief. It is when I go back in my mind to see a “movie” of Elizabeth as she was, and that picture of her in the past holds all these assumptions and beliefs of what was still to come, and it is heartbreaking. All the stories that will never come true. The conversations never had, the joy and the anger and the fear and the wedding(s) and the grandchildren and the growing old, and the love, always the love…

So I take and am grateful for what I still have – the love, the conversations I can still have with her now in spirit, when I listen closely I hear her. I know she is always with me, and the present and the future will look different than what I assumed, and I do the best I can to accept and even love this life, as it is.

Lucia Maya

I live and write in Makawao, on Maui, Hawaii. I write on my blog about my experience with my daughter Elizabeth Blue, during the last year of her life living with cancer and dying in a state of grace. I follow my passion in my work, doing Energy Healing (Reiki, Karuna Reiki and Craniosacral work) and spiritual counseling, in person and at a distance, teaching Reiki and facilitating spiritual workshops. I have a blog on my site as well!

17 thoughts on “Assumptions About Life and Death

  1. When my father died, a colleague sent me a note with just one sentence: Life is what happens when you have other plans. It’s true, but in no way should it prevent you from having dreams and making plans. I love the photo of Elizabeth at the Grand Canyon. It is full of life. It is triumphant and powerful and so positive. To me it says, “Look at me, I am on top of the world”. And she is, even now.


    1. Yes, exactly! She really wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, and it felt like a kind of completion after that trip. And she is still happy and positive and powerful, I agree.
      I’m reminded of a similar quote, which I also like – when we make plans, God laughs (paraphrased!). It’s so true. We really have no control other than how we play the cards we’re dealt – so let’s make the most of it! blessings, Lucia


  2. Thank you, Denise, for taking the time to read this and write. It’s hard to imagine that all that we know will one day be gone, all of it! (That’s another assumption I have, apparently 😉 ) And so if we can BE in this moment, truly everything is fine.

    Sending love from close by, as I’m visiting my daughter in NY this week!
    blessings, Lucia


    1. How funny, you’re so close. But then, you are anyway ;o)

      It’s my last week of working in the city, then I’ll be closer to home. I’m so glad; hope you’re having such a good time.


  3. Before Philip died, I was doing a lot of work to stay present. I finally stopped worrying about dying alone, living in poverty, etc. etc. I couldn’t know what was going to happen; it only ever is now, so let me pay attention. What a relief. Then Philip died, and it hit me how much I ASSUMED he’d be there forever (as far as I was concerned, since I’d die first), he’d get married, have kids, I’d love him and his other half and his kids and there’d be Christmas…

    You are so right about all of it, Lucia, and you said it beautifully. Because one day you’re here and everything is so full, so complicated; then in one instant, you’re gone. What? Just like that? It’s a shock, even if you see it coming.

    Thank you for taking the time to write. You are a comfort and a blessing.


  4. Beautiful! As my mother goes through her second METASTISIS treatments, I see the value of time and life so clearly. I appreciate any effort and moment I share with anyone I love. As usual, I love the beautiful way you tell of your relationship with your daughter. It breaks my heart every time for you still!!!


    1. Thank you for writing. I am sorry your mother is dealing with cancer, and as you say, it brings us so much more into the present, grateful for each moment and everyone we love. (Some of the time at least!)

      I was blessed with a deep relationship with my daughter, and though challenging at times, it was, and continues to be, incredibly rewarding.


  5. There really are no givens in life. You have been robbed of your supposed future. It must of course be a daily sadness to you. Losing my Dad has made me sure of one thing, tomorrow might never come, and life can change in a heartbeat, so I just live now, this very moment is all I can be sure of. I love the photo. It is lovely to see her so alive. I love photos of my Dad before he got sick.


    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. I love that photo too – Elizabeth said after she went to the Grand Canyon, something about being done, like she’d completed something. This was during her remission from cancer, but I believe she knew it was the time to complete things…

      Living in the moment is all we have, that is true, though easy to forget! blessings, Lucia


  6. Beautiful Lucia!

    Thank you for expressing what so many of us who have lost children feel. The loss of the potential, of what could have been.

    Elizabeth Blue is watching you, holding you, loving you….now and for all time.



    1. Thank you!
      There is that sense of the loss of unexpressed potential, and yet, perhaps it is also still there, just in another form… I can see that in some moments at least, which you’ve helped me to see – I was thinking of you as I wrote this too.

      blessings and love, Lucia


  7. Having my first husband die suddenly changed my mind. It had a lasting impression that is still with me today, when I look at the “toothpaste cap left off in the bathroom” or any dumb thing that people fight about in marriage. I made me more appreciative and proactive, and it stayed with me. It doesn’t always, and sudden shocking deaths do not always teach people for more than a few weeks.

    Family leaves in so many ways, not just death. Breaks, arguments, drugs, choices. And some of them are permanent, like death.

    Your writing moves me deeply.


    1. Death, and other forms of loss, can change us profoundly. Ultimately it is up to us to choose (if we truly get to choose anything, but that’s another story…) how we respond and whether we live with suffering, or find the gifts. It has made me more appreciate throughout my life, as I’ve known just what a precious gift it is from a young age… I choose to find the gifts, and I’m blessed to have been born with the nature to do so.

      Thank you for reading and for your comment. blessings, Lucia


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