Years ago I had to walk a pathway that none of us want to but many of us have to. My husband was dying. I had a very young son who was not even 15 months old when his dad was diagnosed with brain cancer. From that moment, it was not a matter of “if” but “when” and my goal was to make that final phase of that man’s life the best goodbye I could manage.
It was hard, no question about it. When I looked down the road I only could see something sad. So most of the time I stopped looking that far ahead. I took it in small segments…each hospital stay, each new piece of information to research and learn more, each new program that could or could not offer some assistance or guidance. Devising systems to help remember meds, to manage where he could be during the day while I had to be at work, to finally figure out how to get help when he no longer could stay at home.
And yes, I was walking through a lot of….manure. But in the midst of the manure I started noticing the flowers. Those flowers were always there, but I had never really noticed them, never really appreciated them. When things are going well we kind of expect to see nice things so we begin to take them for granted.
Like the woman who came up to me in the grocery store parking lot after I had run in to buy some milk with $5 left to get me to the next payday…and she asked me for money for gas for her car. Quick decision made, I gave it to her. She needed to get home to her children, mine was with me, and we would make it the next week.
Like the duo of women who worked where my husband had. They organized a weekly collection of stuff from the other employees there. One week it was canned goods. One week it was paper goods. One week it was toiletries. And one wonderful week it had chocolate, several small bottles of booze, and a couple coupons for ice cream. The poorest I ever was, and the richest.
And the years passed….he swore he would stick around so that baby boy would know him, and he ended up surpassing that initial three to five year life expectancy and made it to the day after his son’s 11th birthday. He died in his sleep. Another gift to all of us.
This week is that anniversary week. Sam just turned 19. His dad has been gone eight years now. And yet, not gone. A tune on the radio calls the memory of him playing his guitar. A mannerism in the boy makes me wonder on the roles of nature versus nurture…how could he have the same movement that his dad had when he was only a baby when his dad’s movements became so different? Life continues in strange but wondrous ways.
All the hassles of life have their flip side….look for the flowers. Just get good boots to be able to wade. And remember, the only thing we truly have control over is our attitude.