Thursday, February 28, 2008

Life Lesson

For the last month or so I have been mulling over one of those little lessons life has to teach us. As you might well know, in January my darling Annie had a very difficult birth and was extremely lucky to have survived the experience. It turned out perfectly and Annie, once again, walked through fire and came out on the other side in fine health and with a bouncing baby boy to show for all her trouble. But there was a very dark time there, for all of us....I was taking care of little Alex and worrying about Annie and Chris and the new baby and what if....what if....what if. (

I didn't have the time, or frankly, the energy to really think through all the consequences of the situation. I put all my worries into a "box" in my head and firmly put the lid on. Once we knew Annie was going to come home and that her kidneys were very likely to return to full function, there wasn't much point in opening that "box" while I was so busy with helping take care of the baby and Alex, and after a while, Annie, too. I didn't want to look at all those what ifs too closely. Late in January I had to return home for a few days as I had some commitments that I had to fulfill. As I was waiting for my flight at the San Diego airport I let that "box" open and allowed myself a bit of a wallow, a mini pity party, and I feeling mighty sorry for myself. VERY sorry for myself.....poor me.

I bought myself a sandwich since I had a lot of time before the flight was called and as it was nearly noon, most of the available tables at the concession area were pretty full. I saw a nice looking lady, maybe 15 or 20 years my senior, sitting by herself at a two person table. I had noticed this lady at the TSA screening area as she was very well dressed and looked nice. I approached her and asked if I might join her and she was very gracious and welcoming, indicating I should sit down and share the table. We spoke about generalities in a friendly manner for several minutes and then, in response to something she had said, I asked her if she'd been in San Diego on holiday or business? She paused and looked me in the eye, long and hard.

"Neither. I just buried my daughter."

It happened that last October her daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer and the poor woman only lived 84 days after the diagnosis. Her last few weeks were very, very hard, I learned from her grieving mother. The daughter was only 40 and left a 13-year-old child of her own.

This lady proceeded to tell me how hard it was to sit by her daughter's bedside and watch the disease ravage her precious child and how she was just able to tell her little girl that it was okay to leave, it was okay to rest, she could just relax and let go. (How do you do that?) She told me, with tears in her eyes, that she entrusted her child to God's love.

She then swallowed a few times, used her napkin to dry her eyes and told me that she now had to go home and get on with living, as it would not honor her daughter if she allowed the grief and loss to overwhelm her. She had to get up each morning and love life and rejoice in each breath she took.

And then she old me she'd also lost her husband of 53 years last May.
I was wallowing in what ifs?

Life lessons sometimes smack you upside the head like a two-by. I needed that lesson and I hope I've learned it.

My Annie is fine. My Ian is fine. My family is SO lucky and SO blessed and I am SO grateful.

To that dear lady at the San Diego airport, I send you my heart-felt sympathy and many, many thank yous for showing me a better way to handle worry, grief and pain. She was, damn it, truly noble. She was beautiful in her determination to honor her daughter's life by living her life to the fullest extent possible.

I am humbled.


MomPhD said...

Good lord, mother, what on earth are you doing reading links like that???

Michele R. Unger said...

Trying to understand. That's what I was doing. And what I understood scared the stuffing out of me! YOU should NEVER read this sort of thing! EVER!!!!!

Grove Street Journal said...

jesus christ. making your daughter cry...