I know this is not the perfect way to followup Valentine's Day...but bear with me...it may just expound on the Valentine spirit for the daily life.
What becomes of the brokenhearted? This question I am faced with daily.
love, loss, heart break.
When I went back to school to get my Masters, I decided I was done with cancer. I was going to focus on health. I had big plans to start a company that did employee wellness programs and I had a big focus on woman's health. Living in Tampa, I saw too may migrant women dying needlessly of cervical cancer, therefore I was going to offer free woman's health programs to the migrant community. I also planned to develop curriculum and teach a course on inter-cultural medicine...in order marry my missions background with my nursing background. I had it all figured out.
Amazing, as I type all this...I become re-inspired toward this goal.
(My thoughts are a series of fleeting feelings, emotions, songs, quotes and ideas...)
So what happened to that dream...basically, Eliot was born sick...I took some time off, and when I actually sought after work, I was introduced to the Cancer Centers. I came here, and fell in love with the practice and was re-inspired towards this complex disease. I love working there. I LOVE my job.
That in itself is a true blessing. Many people go their whole lives without a job they love...and I get to work with some of the nicest and smartest people in the south.
But what do I do? I see heartbreak, love, loss and suffering every day. I see perseverance. I see strength, and I also see defeat.
I have probably mentioned before that I think of cancer as a blessing in many ways. We must all die...but my patients have the opportunity to make things right before they go. Not all of them do....but I think it is a blessing to know that the end is near, and to be able to prepare your family, and make sure people know you love them. My sweet grandmother died with all eight of her grown children in and around her bed. I think..."wow...that woman was so blessed. What better way to part this world!"
I wish we were all offered that opportunity. But, unfortunately, we are not. Even with that opportunity however, not everyone is ready to say good-bye. Goodbyes are hard. They are agonizing. They are unfair.
In just this day alone...I took care of a few people who will not see 2012, and who will probably not see summer. They are not just patients, but they are brothers, and sisters, and fathers, and mothers, and daughters and sons. I wonder what will become of the people who love them? The people who must live on?
What becomes of the brokenhearted?
I started thinking about the people of my youth...the ones who died young, the ones of us who may still die young. Malina has been dead 15 years already. Who would have ever imagined that Malina would die young? That Keith would go before her? What would they have done had they been given the opportunity to grow old together and have a family? What would they had done differently if they knew the end would be so near?
I think of a college friend who recently lost his little girl? Life will never be the same. Even in the face of the birth of their new twins...there will always be a place where she is not. They will always miss her life, and their life with her in it. Until one experiences parenthood, one cannot comprehend the risk we take every day. Every moment or life is full of risks and challenges, and we are not promised tomorrow.
God never promised our children would live long lives, that we would live long lives.
Good health, a blessing...not a right. So many of my breast cancer patients are perfectly healthy...live good lives, eat healthy food, exercise...I look at their lab data and I say "perfect"...healthy person...a perfect way to start chemotherapy to kill the cancer that is stealthily taking over their body....and threatening to kill this picture of health.
Life...life is a blessing. One which ends for all of us. The moment we are born we start dying...isn't that morbid? When I worked pediatric cancer, they always reminded us that death was an acceptable outcome.
Death...death too, is a blessing.
There are times when the idea of the unknown can almost be too much to bear. The risk of heartbreak too great. It can be overwhelming. Grief can engulf you and you can drown in sorrow. I cry a little every day when I think of Cameron and Rachel. Their grief is too much. I don't understand why life has to be so hard and why we can't just protect our children? Why so much is out of our hands? Why we have to just let go? Why we can't control the outcomes, no matter how perfectly we live this life?
No amount of money, no amount of wellness, no amount of church, knowledge, or faith will keep us safe...the end is imminent.
There was a time...an innocent time...when it all seemed to be a fairy tale. When the sky was the limit. Youthful, thin, innocent and happy, laughing, dancing and singing. Our whole lives ahead of us. The sky was the limit. God was good and God had good things awaiting us all. Love, marriage, family, dream jobs. Before we had children, lost children, had love, lost love, had dreams, lost dreams.
I wonder what I would say to them if I could go back in time. Would I tell them that they really would get married to that guy they crushed over and live happily ever after? Or maybe never gave that love a chance? That they would develop a drug problem that would ruin all they had worked so hard for? Would I tell them they would end up having five children? Would I tell them that love would end in tragic divorce? Would I tell them that beloved child would die? Would I tell them that disease lurked around the corner?
If we knew the end, would we do it all again?
So many songs spring into my head right now and I hear them simultaneously....
Garth Brooks- "I could have missed the pain, but I would have had to miss the dance..."
Indigo Girls- "What I wouldn't give, to have the gift of the next ten years unfolding, but if I had my wish I'd be bored"...
Everything dies. Everyone dies. Every relationship ends...some tragic, some peaceful, all associated with heartbreak.
None of us choose to be born....and many of us unfortunately waste our lives. We get to the end and realize that we never accomplished anything, we didn't spend time with our children, we were hateful and mean and didn't nurture our love.I see this every day. Mothers and daughter who don't speak, spouses who argue, children who have been cut off. These people are dying and some still hang on to the resentment and hate and prejudice.
If I have learned one thing in this field it is this...we die in the way we live. We don't get to the end and suddenly start being kind to others and make everything right...if we are bitter and miserable in life, we will be bitter and miserable in death...if we are kind and gracious in life, we will die gracefully. It is an unfortunate fact. We have but one life...and one chance to get it all right and to get it together. How many times did I waste opportunity. Let friendships die. Never pursued that relationship. So many unknowns and should have and could haves.
A friend spoke today and spoke of her marriage in the most inspired way...she said, "marriage is a living thing, it must be nurtured and fed or it will die".
Our love of people, our love of ourselves, our love of relationships...they are precious gifts. Precious living things. Our energy and our time must be spent in loving and caring and nurturing them.
There is a word...a word a friend once introduced me too, and like all things, I obsessed about the word and its meaning. A German word, or a made up word, and rumored to be the final words of Einstein.
Erleichda, erleichda!!! Lighten up!
(Isn't that refreshing after the past Debbie Downer blog?)
Lighten Up!!!! Quit taking everything so seriously. Don't take it so personally.
I suppose that it one way to interpret this complex thought.
But the truth is...everything is personal!
Life is personal!
We were created in the image of God. We have more than a soul with feelings and the ability to co-habit. What separates us from our dogs is that we have spirit. We have the ability to connect intimately. We have the ability to connect with God and each other and to have faith and passion in this life we are forced into.
Erleichda- Lighten up. LIVE! Take it all....take this joy and passion don't waste this precious opportunity. Walk with integrity. Work hard and no matter what you do...embrace it and do it well. Know who you are. Live passionately.
This beautiful roller coaster of life. Days when you can't imagine feeling more alive. The birth of a child. A marriage. Falling in love. Laughing to tears with an old friend.
This life that has days that feel so low that you are not sure you can bear to go on. The death of a loved one. The loss of a pregnancy. Seeing a friend lose a child.
The ups and down of this world that are part of what living is about...living your life in a way that you allow yourself to fully feel and embrace every part of it.
Erleichda. Be enlightened. Feel. Really feel. Not just the joyous things in this life...but also the unimaginable. The heartbreak. The gloomy days that show their face...even after a weekend full of sunshine.
with the words from one of our favorite children's books, Someday.
My dreams for you:
"that someday you will walk into a deep wood,
that someday you will dive into the cool clear water of a lake,
that someday your eyes will be filled with a joy so bright that they will shine,
that someday you will run so far and so fast, that your heart will feel like fire,
that someday you will swing high, higher than you ever dared to swing,
that someday, you will hear something so sad that you will fold up with sorrow....
(if you haven't read this book, it is so good that even Daddy cries when he reads it to the kiddos)
So...this is my wish for you...live, laugh, cry, dance, sing. But whatever you do, do it fully...do it will all your heart. Lighten up...Be enlightened...Erleichda.
So...now I will go...because a sleepy boy just came downstairs and is asking me to "snuggle me" on the couch...so let me go live and enjoy every moment of this sweet blessing and opportunity we have been offered....
for as long as it lasts....