The Complexities of Life

Life is up. Then it’s down. It’s happy, then it’s sad. It’s never wholly one thing or another. Life in human form is complex. The question is: can we get comfortable with that? Can we see that it is all right?

I was in Los Angeles last weekend with people I love more than anyone or anything on earth—my three daughters and my granddaughter. Debbie, my oldest daughter and Celine, my granddaughter live there. Michaela, the youngest, had come out from New York on business.

Debbie called me with a last minute inspiration and said “Why don’t you come out, too?”  And I got lucky. My cat sitter had a cancellation in her schedule and she was free to stay with Dorian.  Then we learned that Niki was flying out from Washington, D.C., to round out the group. It was a spontaneous, star-studded turn of events. Heartwarming. Happy. Joyous. It’s not easy to get us all together. These are incredible girls, all of them— women, I mean—with careers and commitments. But we made it.

In spite of our scheduling “miracle,” we weren’t completely rounded out.  My granddaughter Elenni (Michaela’s daughter) in New York couldn’t be there because of her job. We face-timed our missing link and she was “there” for a laugh with us, but do you see what I mean? Therein lay the complexity. Complexity doesn’t spoil the joy that is ours; it is just life. It’s the way it works. The question is, can we get comfortable with it? Can we see that it is all right? The girls are conscious people, spiritual and awake. They were fine. So was I. We took it as it was, we missed our dear Elenni, and were grateful for the joy that was ours.

The meal of the weekend was a cook-out in my granddaughter’s back yard. It was elegant – lamb chops and teriyaki chicken, no less, and other luscious tidbits, like grilled pineapple. The table was set beneath a canopy fashioned by God – a full, lush avocado tree. Celine’s orange tree was heavy with fruit, as was the lemon tree. Something blue on a large shrub (I don’t know its name) was in full bloom, as were crimson hibiscus. It was California at its best. The weather was perfect; the food was delicious (the girls are good cooks). We laughed a lot. I was overflowing with love and gratitude. We are a tight group. Still…there was that little piece missing. And then, there was Zoe.

Zoe is Debbie’s cat. I slept in her room and Zoe (who sleeps there too) commandeered my little weekender. The bag was just her size, and from the moment I put it down, she got on it to sleep and never moved from it, pretty much the whole time I was there. We had to move her when I needed something from the bag. Finally, I just took everything out, so that Zoe, seventeen years old, frail and ill, could have what she wanted. My granddaughter’s two dogs, on the other hand, were young, robust, and feisty. They’re pit bulls. Big. Commanding. Another little complexity.

On the last night I was there, I went to a real Hollywood party. A friend of ours, whom we’ve known for many years, is a film director, and a movie of hers was premiering on television. The “watch” party was at her house – a dream place that looks like you think a movie director’s house would look like—high on a hill with the lights of LA twinkling below. Glamorous food. Some of the cast members were there, humble, shy, and friendly. Not a sign of ego. Normally, I am not a big fan of parties, but I had a great time. Every once in a while, though, I thought about Zoe.

The next morning, I packed my things in bags and left my weekender for Zoe to sleep on. She looked so sweet, curled up like a baby. I couldn’t take it from her. I drove back to Sedona through the Sonoran desert. It is a breathtaking drive in the spring. The desert is in bloom and so spectacular that at times I was compelled to cry out loud, “Oh, my God!” But it takes about eight hours, with a stop or two for gas. Breathtaking drive, God’s beauty, long hours, fatigue. There it was again.

When I got home, I texted the girls – it’s what we do when we travel – and asked about Zoe. Debbie had taken her to the vet that morning. She texted back that by afternoon, Zoe was gone.  Amidst our great joy of being together, there were tears and loss. We had loved Zoe for seventeen years. She was family. She was also failing; we all knew that, and nobody wanted Zoe to suffer, but still. There it was.

Debbie is a singer, and she had a big hit a while back. While living in Paris, she recorded the French version of “The Circle of Life” (L’Histoire de la Vie) for the soundtrack of the movie, The Lion King. Niki found it on YouTube and sent it to all of us. And that’s it. The circle of life is life as we are able to see it, complexities and all.  But the complexities of life are not without purpose and meaning. I believe there is a Divine Order and that Love has created it. We are just in a place where we cannot see it with human eyes or understand it fully with human hearts. Yet, in those moments when we are comfortable with our limits and accepting of the complexities of life, we are in a state of peace. In those rare, beautiful moments, we know that everything is fine, and we are safe, and loved, and at home, as are those who have gone before us.

Zoe as we will remember her – young and happy


See the Sonoran desert in bloom at


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at For a signed copy, go to


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