I just finished reading "Help, Thanks, Wow" by Anne Lamott the other day. It is a pithy and good book. I'm not quite at the "wow" stage of prayer at the moment. Life is sucking a little bit too much for me to feel all overwhelmed by the awesomeness of dandelions, ripe strawberries, and sunshine very often, but I'm working on that. The first two chapters on "Help" and "Thanks" were right on point though for me.
One thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is how this experience with Jeff having lymphoma has made me realize just how ordinary, but also special, we are. Crappy diagnoses, and just flat out crappy things, happen to people all the time. Out the blue. Just on any otherwise ordinary day, to ordinary people. It's an unfortunate fact of life and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Initially, this observation feels very unsettling, and it is, but there's also something a wee bit comforting about not being in control. Once you can accept that, of course.
The "special" realization stems not from thinking that there is something so unique about our family, but from realizing, through this experience, how many people seem to care about us, and love us. We have been flooded with kind emails (to which we rarely find time to respond), cards, gifts, and acts of kindness. People are rooting for us. We matter to our friends and family, and that's what I am realizing makes us special.
Thinking about that has made me a little more compassionate to the DBs in line for coffee who aggravate me, the drivers who have annoying habits of not using their turn signals, and even (to a far lesser extent) the jerkwad politicians who want to take food from the mouths of hungry kids. I would hope that even those sorry souls are special to someone.
And on a deeper level, with this insight, I have been saddened to a new degree when I see forlorn mentally ill or homeless people in our neighborhood. I hope that someone finds them special, that someone loved them like crazy when they were kids - as much as I find myself loving Lydia and Stella. And when I think about this, I can only be thankful for the support and love that I have been showered with and ask for help for others who have much less than I do, and are facing life's trials alone.
The following is one of many little quotes from the book that I thought was appropriate for this entry. I'll spare you the rest and cut the sappiness now. We have to leave for the heme/onc clinic in a couple of minutes anyway.
"They say - or maybe I said - that a good marriage is one in which each spouse secretly thinks he or she got the better deal, and this is true also of our bosom friendships. You could almost flush with appreciation. What a great scam, to have gotten people of such extreme quality and loyalty to think you are stuck with them. Oh my God. Thank you." - Anne LamottKatina