At my last check-up, I mentioned to my doctor that I sometimes felt overwhelmed by the many people I know who are sick or battling illness. (I immediately felt like my mother, talking about so-and-so who has this or that, jeesh).
My doctor said that the older we get, the more people we know, and the more people we know, the more people we see going through illness. It’s a numbers game, and that I should also factor into the equation the many people I know who are not sick, and also who are healthy after battling illness.
I hadn’t thought of it like that.
She is a realist and I’ve always admired the visible resolve I see in her to not be paralyzed by these things that I find just plain hard. My own father died of cancer at age 43 and my older sister has been suffering from a very debilitating form of fibromyalgia for almost 20 years.
I thought of other people I know who are sick. I have a good friend who, at age 28, had been very suddenly hospitalized with respiratory paralysis from a rare disorder that had her own immune system attacking her nerves. She recovered after a very lengthy hospital stay and rehabilitation, and carried on to become wildly successful in her career and personal life. But now in her forties, she is experiencing an out-of-the-blue comeback of the symptoms and is unable to work.
That’s just the beginning of my list. We all know people in our lives fighting battles of all sizes, and we also hear of actual real-life wars being fought across the world from us, as well as close to home. The list can seem endless, it’s everywhere, and the older we get, as my doctor said, the more we see and learn and know.
But I’ve decided to try and follow my doctor’s (realist) lead, and I’m choosing to be THANKFUL. To take note and experience the highs and lows of all our battles. I don’t find it easy, in any way, reconciling with the hardships of friends and family. The hardships of life. But what is easy is plucking out the simple stuff that is also happening -the little moments of greatness that we all have in our days.
I sat on that paper-covered medical table in my doctor’s office and thought, “It’s true, I know lots of people who are healthy, too”.
I recently met a 5 month old baby who was born with a tumour who has not left hospital care since his birth. His mother, with glossy eyes looking right at me, said he is “kicking radiation and chemotherapy’s butt”! THATTA BOY! And I have a friend who is celebrating year two of remission from emphysema, HOORAY! And another who is in year 5 of remission from breast cancer, WOO HOO! My friend with nerve damage is vibrantly embracing life at home with her 3 kids and a dog, and has come to see a reluctant beauty in being still. OH YEAH!
I know you know those moments, too. Go have them! Go watch them happen. Go gulp them down, send them down into your bellies and savour every nourishing morsel. It’s kind of like turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. THANKFUL.
To sign THANK YOU in American Sign Language, touch your fingertips to your chin, then extend them out towards the other person you are thanking.