Friday, April 17, 2015

Serve Your Purpose, Help A Friend



Have you ever wondered what the purpose of life is? Have you ever thought about why you are here? What did you come here to do? Why did God put you on this earth? What’s this all about? What is the meaning of life?

The first time these thoughts crossed my mind was in early October 2000. I vividly remember sitting in my office at work and looking around at my desk and just thinking “What the hell am I doing here? Is this what life is about?” I had just come back to work after a week-long leave after losing my unborn baby, Gabriel. Nothing made sense to me anymore. Life didn’t make sense. And it really didn’t make sense that I was sitting in an office, managing databases, talking to clients, and awarding their sales reps with prizes for their achievements. I remember thinking “How am I making a difference? How am I making this world a better place? How does any of this matter?” I knew the answers were “You’re not and it doesn’t.”

I continued to think of every profession, business, and job…the people who manufacture little rubber parts for who knows what; the places that sell nuts and bolts; the people who make ribbons and bows; and on and on. I couldn’t stop thinking of every type of career and how silly and meaningless so much of it seemed. I wondered “Why? What are we all doing here? Is this what we’re here for? To make and sell shit? I thought of my own job. I was working as a Director in a Meeting Planning, Travel Incentive, Sales Recognition company. My job was to reward the sales people who met and exceeded their numbers with business cards, plaques, and prizes. I thought…”My baby just died and I’m supposed to care that John Smith sold 200 cars last year? This is what life is about? Really?”

I knew there had to be more to life but my quest to find the answers would wait another 12 or 13 years because I became consumed with my grief and I ended up taking another leave from work, this time for a whole month, while I tried to pick up the pieces of my life.

Since then, what I have discovered is that life is much greater than nuts and bolts and ribbons and bows. I believe we each have an individual purpose to fulfill, lessons to learn, and karmic debts to repay. But I also believe that we have a collective purpose. We are all here to serve others; to help one another; and to make a difference no matter how big or small.


In the last week I’ve been thinking “God gave us a voice for a reason. It is our responsibility to use it.” I believe we are here to learn but we are also here to teach. The adversities we experience in life are not in vain. They are here to teach us something, but then we are supposed to do something with what we learn! Part of our purpose is to do good with the bad we are given and to help others along the way.


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Picking up where I last left off with my story a month ago in "The D Word."..

September 1992

Just like my grief consumed me in 2000, my sister became consumed by hers in 1992 after her husband died. After the funeral and everyone’s lives resumed to normal, I was still spending the night at her house every night, sleeping in bed with her, keeping her company. My apartment down the street from DJ’s house was empty since my dad was still in Argentina. Looking back, I think it’s so ironic that when I finally had a place of my own, I wasn’t there to enjoy it. But I knew my sister needed me and so I stayed.

I’m not going to lie… this change in living arrangements was really hard on my relationship with DJ. I was staying in Newport Beach, about 25 miles away from his house. We had been used to seeing each other every single day for the previous two years, no matter what. So obviously, he wasn’t happy with my decision to stay at my sister’s, but he tried to be understanding and supportive. He would also still visit me very often. I don’t remember for sure, but I think we still managed to see each other seven days a week. The good news was that he had gotten a new job down the street from my job, so he was close by. The bad news was that his job was the night shift (and later became the graveyard shift), so that definitely added to the strain in our relationship. We would try to see one another in between when I got off work and before he went to work…something like that…and of course, there were also the weekends.

Things with my sister were really good. She and I had not lived together since I was about 4 or 5-years-old, so I really had no memory of what it was like to live with her. Luckily, we got along pretty well. It was hard on me though in the sense that she was so depressed and so emotionally fragile. I felt a huge responsibility in making her better, lifting her up, giving her hope, and being her cheerleader. It became my mission to see to it that she found her will to live again. (Remember, I was only 22, so I really believed it was completely up to me to “fix her”.)

On the weekends, I’d go out to the movies or to dinner with DJ, but my mind was always at home, wondering if Serena was okay; worried that she was alone; feeling guilty that I was out having fun with my boyfriend while she was at home crying over her deceased husband. Many date nights would end at the bookstore, where I would shop for self-help books for her. I bought her so many books on grief and loss. I just wanted to find a “cure” for her and get her back up on her feet.

I don’t know when it happened for sure, but I ended up moving in permanently at some point. I remember telling my sister’s best friend that soon I would have to go back to my apartment and the friend told me “You can’t do that. You have to stay. Your sister needs you. If you leave now, she will fall apart completely.” Shit. Talk about a guilt trip! And that is why I stayed…for three years.

Day after Christmas with my first pug-love, Miko Tai
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During those three years I was with my sister, we had the opportunity to get to know one another on a much deeper level than we ever had before, given our 16 ½ year age difference. I believe that part of my purpose was to help her through her grief; to keep her company; and to help her physically and emotionally as best I could for my young age. She also served a purpose in my life at the time. She gave me stability and a stress-free home-life; she gave me encouragement and support. In other words, we helped each other.  It wasn’t all roses and rainbows and kittens for the whole three years. Drama unfolded as is bound to happen in any relationship. But looking back 23 years later, I can see it as a time in my life where I made a difference and I served a purpose. I had learned a lot through my own grief of losing my mom six years prior, so I was able do some good with the bad I was given and help my sister along the way.

When we reach out to help others, we are not only making a difference in their lives, but also in our own. We learn and grow through the experience of contributing to someone else’s well-being. Think about the last time you helped someone in some way. Think about how good it made YOU feel to know that you were able to do something positive for someone. (And think about what you learned and how you grew from the experience.) THAT is the common thread of humanity; that is what we are here for as a whole. Use your voice for good. Teach what you have learned. Keep helping. Keep making a difference. Keep fulfilling your purpose.

New Year's Eve before going out. I'm so fancy, I can't stand it.
(I remember feeling terribly guilty about
leaving my sister behind, all alone.)
This is us. This is who we are still to this day.

New Year's Eve garage party
DJ, my favorite DJ. haha!!

4 comments:

  1. So glad you've been able to be there for those you love, sweetie. And hope they've been there for you, as well.

    Here's to continuing to trace the folds of Purpose and Grace.

    With heart,
    Dani

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    1. "Here's to continuing to trace the folds of Purpose and Grace." LOVE IT!!! I just may have to do an art journal page with that quote! ;) I believe you are fulfilling your purpose of helping others with the gift of your words. Always so poetic, profound, and beautiful. Big hugs, sweet Dani!!!

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  2. Wow Jackie. That's quite a sacrifice you made in your life. I've heard that sacrifice is giving up something for something better and it seems that it ended up that way. I believe with you that our highest purpose is to be a light in the world in whatever form that takes. Great post. Even greater gift to your sister.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Anita. It definitely was worth the sacrifice and I'm so grateful for that time I had with my sister. It was a gift for me too. :)

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