Friday, March 7, 2014

Filling the Glass

A friend is recovering from a scary, awful surgery.  There's treatment to follow and the possibility of even more ugliness down the road. The test results, which will put those fears to rest, are months away.

It's enough to try the patience of even the Zen of humans.  MTF is not very Zen at all.

She's a doer, a problem solver, a great believer in facts.  If there are routines to be followed, she's got them mastered and incorporated into her daily regime.  These are admirable traits in every day life; they are less than salubrious while playing a waiting game.

There is nothing to be done to speed things along. She has all the information which is currently available. There are no problems to be solved because there may not be a problem at all.... or there might be and that's pretty frightening to contemplate.  It's a quandary, one she is resolving in a most unusual fashion.

She's looking at the glass of her life as half full.  She's concentrating on what's positive and helpful and healing and full of love, rather than focusing on all that is now or could in the future be wrong. For snarky, New York, heathens, this is most disturbing.

I remember her response to my saccharine smile and sigh over a particularly schmaltzy get well card.  In my defense, I was still in the hospital and the drugs were very very very.  Still, the look of horror on her face and the accompanying plaintive plea that I not become that kind of woman resonate to this day.

We kept our defenses up.  We knew that the world was sharp and barbed and we would not be taken by surprise.  There may have been water in the bottom of our glasses, but we were concentrating on the empty space above.

That worked quite well until I was shot and she was diagnosed.  Suddenly, the half empty part was not only dark and scary, it was very close to home.  Loss and fear and death are bad enough in the abstract; when you've looked them in the eye, when you've felt their power up close and personal, just peering down into the abyss is enough to ruin a perfectly good day.

Life is filled with perfectly good days. The bad ones are so bad that they run the risk of tainting everything else. Looking at a half empty glass is staring over the edge... and there's no benefit to anyone in that. That is not a powerful nor a positive position to assume.  Standing up tall, shoulders back, smile fixed firmly on face, we can greet the world with the veneer of a woman who is pleased to be here.  It may not reach down deep into our psyches at first, but, over time, I found that the behavior was the father of the internal change.

I smiled.  People smiled back.  I said I'm doing fine and that's what others saw.  I repeated my daily affirmation - The sun came up and I was here to see it.  By definition, it's a good day - and, again, over time, I found that I really did believe it.

I'm not looking for a silver lining in the very dark cloud which led us to this place.  An epiphany such as this is not worth the pain.  But, given that the pain is there, filling that glass with the joy that is found in the dawn and in the sunset, in the arms of friends and family, in the knowledge that we are stronger than we imagined possible.... filling our hearts and our minds with smiles and laughter is a much better place to be.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry I've been MIA. A friend from the office is dying from lung cancer and he's only 42. Has two boys 8 and 5 and I'm just so preoccupied with that. I've been reading, but haven't had a chance to comment. Enjoy your time with her. Smile and hug her.

    I'm sending big hugs your way too.

    Megan xxx


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