Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hugs, Humor and Hope

I was frightened, sick, and just generally miserable.  I had been having radiation treatments for two weeks.   Coming out of the radiation room I met an elderly man.  He was very obviously being treated for terminal cancer.  He was Ethopian starvation victim skinny.  The bones in his face pressed hard against the skin. 

As sick as he was he still noticed me, and my obvious distress.  He smiled at me (and I recognized the effort that the smile cost him). We exchanged shallow pleasantries.

Then he stopped the world for a minute by making a comment I'll never forget.  "You know, everyday above ground is a cause for celebration!"  Then he was gone, whisked off to his own personal radiation torture.

I mentally shifted my load of self-pity and fear off my shoulders and dropped them into a hole.  Then I slid into the place of those negatives joy and rejoicing for the wonderful husband that I had, and our two dear, beautiful, adorable daughters.  I drove home grateful for life, and determined to "celebrate," be grateful, and live life to its fullest.

Humor has given me courage, pushed out fear, and made me feel renewal for each new day and the possible challenges that I will face.  Humor is quite literally a type of therapy.  Scientists have made a study of the positive values of humor.  Fifteen minutes a day provides our body with 1/4 of the Serotonin (neurotransmitters that our brain needs to help us feel content) that we need for one day.

I had never felt so alone in my entire life.  I was in an enormous train station with two small daughters, aged 18 months, and 4 years.  My husband had to stay home to take some tests in Law School.  (In Law School the only reason that you can be absent from a test is if YOU have died).  I had traveled from Portland, OR to Salt Lake City, UT to see my dying Father again.  He had been battling cancer of the colon for 5 long years.  The battle was about to end for him. 

My brother was supposed to meet me at the Railroad Station.  He wasn't there.  I called my Mom, and she tearfully told me that Papa had died the night before.  The reality, that I would NOT see my beloved Father any more in this life overwhelmed me.  I pulled our girls along with me.  I took us all into a bathroom stall where I could have some semblance of privacy as I sobbed my sorrow.

When I finally came out about 10 minutes later with a tiny bit of control over my emotions a woman was waiting for me.  She said, "I hope that you don't mind my eavesdropping.  I overheard that your Father has passed away.  My Father passed away years ago, but I still miss him everyday.  I'm so sorry dear."  She pulled me into her arms and gave me the warm, comforting hug of a sister.  I had never met this woman before, and probably will never meet her again in this life.  She was to me an angel coming to my rescue at one of the hardest junctures of my life.  Her gift of listening, and loving, was surpassed by her amazing hug. 

That hug kept me warm as I finally found my brother by phone at the wrong train station.  The hug helped me through the long days of caring for our girls and then crying myself to sleep.  It followed me back to Portland, OR and gave me courage to face the continued reality of my Papa's death.

Sobbing, sobbing, sobbing, my head was throbbing, throbbing, throbbing.  I was so very ill, each and every day.  I had been working a part-time job but the sheer quantity of medical conditions that I battled made the job impossible. 

Our family Primary Care Practitioner had also been a family friend.  Our children were the same age, and had been in the same class together at school. 

I told her about all of my struggles, the migraines three or four times a week, the chronic bronchitis at least once a month, the pain from Fibromyalgia, and I also asked for an MRI of my back.  She told me, "If I felt that you needed to be disabled, I would feel it necessary to contact Child Protective Services.  Nyle (my husband) is already fully disabled.  I just don't think that you ARE sick enough for disability."

I went to the car confused, disconsolate, and despairing.  I looked ahead to the future and it was so bleak that I simply did not want to live.  I knew that I COULD not and WOULD  not kill myself.  What would Nyle and the girls do without me?  Sick as I was I was still the wife, and Mom (my favorite roles in my whole life). 

I had not yet learned the beauty of being sufficient within yourself so that others opinions did not have power to stop your progression.  I still was blown about by the opinions of others.  I would feel positive and able to cope with my struggles after the affirming of a dear friend.  Then when another friend (who had NEVER faced my level of challenges) wrote me a letter telling me that I was NOT raising my children well.  I would be devastated for days.

Back to the sobbing, desperate woman in her car in the parking lot of an enormous medical facility.  (I did NOT want to go home and sob, the girls, and my very ill husband were depending on ME).

There was a soft rap on my window.  I looked up and saw a pleasant looking older man.  I thought, "I shouldn't roll down my window, he might try to kidnap me."  Then I thought, "Let him kidnap me.  The situation couldn't be much worse than the one that I'm in."  (I am SO foolish when discouraged and despondent).

The man said, "Forgive me for

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