So I haven’t had a lot of tolerance lately for complaints about life and how unfair it is. What’s unfair is a young woman in her twenties I worked with who died four days ago. Her daughter is less than a month old. Life was good, life was beautiful, and there was a lot of excitement for here and now. Not for the past and all the freedoms that changed, not the future and its hopes and dreams. Now – today – was sufficient, the absolute total whole tamale. All of it, for her, ended in a moment. No regrets, no complaints, no do-overs – nothing but joy for all that she had been given and held in her hand, in her arms, in her heart.
Another friend gave up two breasts to cancer. Rather than gamble on the long shot, she took the best odds with a double mastectomy. It’s been a year. In it, she’s had reconstructive surgery, spent a month caring for an ill family member on the opposite side of the continent, vacationed in Hawaii, and started a new business. Her kids admire her, her husband is devoted to her, and she has more friends than she could share a day with in one year. And she’s alive.
I know a man who is out of work, in his late 30’s, living with parents. One is disabled, the other working for just better than minimum wage, but there’s room for family. He gives, does all that he can to help, and continues to look for work in an economy that is unkind to the unemployed. Still, when he was working, he gave his entire final paycheck to help a friend.
I have two friends with different cancer. One expects to die when her time comes, the other when her doctor predicts. Both give thanks for life yet their outlooks are not the same. Still, both contribute to the happiness of family and friends, have plans for what future they continue to hope for.
There are no guarantees. We take life as it comes. We can be happy, grateful, thankful, and accept our portion. We can be angry and make targets out of anything – pets, doctors, teachers, spouses, the government, even the guy in the check-out line, but in the end? What will you take with you, and what will you leave behind? What will we truly be remembered for? What, really, is important and to what do we devote our best efforts and attitudes? I’m choosing to be really grateful, and I’m not going to waste myself on anything less.