“Let go or be dragged.” – Zen Proverb
Recently I read a column by Judy Woodruff that knocked me on my rear. It was called “I was my husband’s caregiver as he was dying of cancer. It was the best seven months of my life.”
The title alone was a hook. Those were the best months of your life? Seriously? This I’ve got to read.
I’m not going to go into the whole article (because the link is above*), but she wasn’t saying that those months weren’t filled with anger, grief, and profound pain. On the contrary. But she knew she was serving the highest purpose while caring for her husband. She was fully present for every moment, in tune with gratitude for the smallest blessings. She was the best form of herself.
That article helped me view today through an entirely new lens. Today was hospital day with Drew. MRIs, labs, oncologist, neurosurgeon, the whole nine yards. This is always a brutal day for us. Frankly, I don’t typically handle it well. Between the weight of my own fears and the thick cloak of grief and pain enveloping fellow patients and families in the waiting rooms of a place with “Advanced Medicine” in its name, it’s emotionally paralyzing.
I thought about Woodruff’s column as I looked around the waiting rooms today — and I realized how profoundly blessed we were to be there. We were surrounded by people with the keenest understanding of what really matters. Looking around, there wasn’t a single person who gave a rip that last night’s VP debate was supposedly a snore fest. No one had the energy for petty bickering at the office or name-calling on Facebook. No one was going to be laying on the horn or tossing obscene gestures to impatient drivers in rush hour traffic.
No, no one had time for that.
People spoke to each other gently. Nervously stroked each other’s hands. Fussed to make each other comfortable. Waiting. Wondering. Praying.
This is the first visit we’ve ever had that I didn’t feel crushed by the weight of fear and grief. Don’t get me wrong, I still retreated to a bathroom stall to cry it out when Drew was taken back for his ridiculously lengthy MRI. But even then, I still felt lighter than other visits. How blessed are we to be in a place where people are grateful for every moment? To be reminded how good life is and how much we want to preserve it. In this place, all of the nonsensical, pointless crap falls away, leaving us with gratitude for every tiny blessing.
Thank you, God, for this life. And for growth. Thank you that my kids, while sick, are vibrant, living well, and moving fearlessly towards their futures. And thank you for helping me find new perspective — and gratitude — in such an unexpected place.
*Please overlook or skip the brief Hillary reference in Woodruff’s column if you’re not a fan. Hopefully it is obvious that a political statement is not remotely my (or her) intent.