After 12 days of thoughtful gratitude, last night we received word that a friend of ours was back in the hospital and this morning I awoke to this email message (names have been truncated):
I got a call yesterday from B. L's body is shutting down. He's put up a hell of a fight, but it's about over. We flew up to Maine last night and are here in the hospital.
Just wanted to let you know.
And, just like that, the mindful gratitude of the past two weeks left an audible sucking sound as it vacated the room. Of all the things that popped into my head, in the seconds stretched into minutes after reading that message, not one of them remotely resembled gratitude.
- L was diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma fewer than 18 months ago.
- Mantle cell lymphoma is killing L.
- L is in his 40s.
In fact, of all the things that popped into my head, most of them either resembled a form of a mental it’s-not-fair foot-stomping or involved language far too vulgar to post.
So today, I walked my children to school thinking that while I could be grateful for so many amazing elements of my life (including beautiful healthy children), I was actually overwhelmed with sadness by the news and to pretend otherwise would be just that – pretending. It would be simply checking a box to find something good to write about today. Not because good ceases to exist in the face of sadness but purely because I am just not really feeling it today.
I can normally multi-task but being simultaneously profoundly sad and profoundly grateful sounds way outta my league.
After kissing my children goodbye, I spilled my sadness to a friend and I confessed that a daily gratitude post was feeling hard to come by.
I’m not sure what I expected to gain by sharing with her. I didn’t expect her to fix my sadness. After all, how does one ‘fix’ the nonsensical final effects of terminal cancer? I didn’t expect her to share my burden. She doesn’t know L or his wife.
I didn’t expect anything really. I just felt a little lost.
My friend, looked me in the eye and said, “Stacey, I’m sorry. Sometimes all you can do is just take the next breath.”
And so I will just do that instead.