Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thrive Don't Just Survive (possible Chapter 1)


Tired and sick, sick and tired, tired and sick of being sick and tired! I had just finished a radiation treatment to beat back the cancer that had invaded my left breast. I passed an elderly man waiting for his treatment. It was obvious that he was terminal. Literally he was skin and bones. He looked as though every muscle in his body had simply atrophied and gone away.

The most remarkable thing about him was NOT his wasted status. There were plenty of people in that space and place that were emaciated from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. His smile was so bright that it seemed to chase away all the gloom. I was beyond thinking of anyone or anything beyond my own struggle, but he reached out to me.

Softly he said, “Remember, every day above ground is a cause for celebration.”

I tried to give him back a smile, but I'm quite sure that it looked more like a grimace. It was an empty action that felt too strenuous for my physical and emotional status.

One of the radiation therapists (In my world radiation is NOT DOES kill cancer, and MIGHT save your life, but there is simply nothing THERAPEUTIC about it. It is a treatment, one that is very useful, but miserable.) loaned me a book. The years have melted away my memory of the title or author. I DO remember distinctly the overall message of the book.

The book spoke frankly about the many challenges and trials that life might hold. A hypothetical story was told about a man and his family that were wealthy, healthy, and had all the positive benefits that life could afford them. AND THEN...He lost his job, they almost lost their home, and continually struggled to pay bills, and feed their family. Then life grew better again. The man found a great job, and their financial troubles were over. AND THEN...the wife developed cancer, was unable to work, and often unable to care for the home or children. Their lives were once again filled with sorrow and turmoil. Until the wife's breast cancer went into remission, and she was able to resume her job. AND THEN...well I think you have gotten the pattern in this hypothetical.

The point was that if we spend our lives going up and down as circumstances seem to indicate our lives are going to be extremely stressful, and we will wear out from all the ups and downs. Their idea was that we needed to find joy, ESPECIALLY IN THE HARD TIMES! The book indicated that the wisest course in life was to not allow down to take YOU down.

That idea seemed so radical to me that I read and re-read the wonderful book. I wish that I had purchased my own copy. On the other hand the message of the book has carried me through life in many dire circumstances.

When my sweetheart, Nyle, died at the age of 54, I wanted to die with him. We had been married for 27 years. During those years of happiness and sorrow we had become family. I simply would never have considered leaving him...EVER!

We were empty nester's, our two lovely daughters were grown and out into their own lives. I cherished that time together with my sweetheart. The absence of his presence in my life was keenly sorrowful. I wanted to simply hide in bed and cry non-stop.

Anyone who has gone through the loss of a parent, sibling, child, spouse, or other types of familial loss understands what a shock it is to your entire system to watch this beloved one die. Then the adjustment of your family to a “New normal,” fills each moment with hurt, and sorrow. I truly wanted to die with my sweetheart. I could not bear the idea of continuing into a life that did not include him.

I had been blessed with the man of my dreams. Maybe it would have been easier if he had been a miserable human being that made my life difficult. He was NOT. He was my soulmate, my darling, my laughter, my smile, and my reason for waking up with hope in the morning.

I literally found myself walking “Through the Valley of the shadow of death,” as it says in Psalms in the Bible. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

It was during this time that I felt impressed to begin writing my book, “Thrive Don't Just Survive.” I wrote it selfishly to remind ME that life was still precious. I wrote to help me believe that I would sometime again feel joy, and to remember how I bore pain through the trials and struggles of the past.

As I wrote it occurred to me that my memories might also encourage others as they struggled with pain and sorrow. I hope that others will read and connect, and be lifted out of whatever valley they are crawling through, exhausted, and feeling alone.

Gratefully, writing this book HAS lifted me. It HAS given me hope. It has also reminded me that Nyle is NOT far away. I can't see him, and he does NOT kiss as well, but I feel his love with me always.

Thanks to all those who have touched my life and made it better. Thanks for being willing to comfort me. Your love humbles me, and makes me desire to help others.

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