I was thinking about my schedule, my trips, a blog post, my book, then I had breakfast with a friend and she interrupted my inner dialogue and with one small statement blew down the walls of my four walled theatre I had built around me to house my small life. She did what all good friends do and she gave me perspective. She reminded me that life is so much bigger and harder and better then I’m allowing it to be when I wall myself into the tiny show of my life, where small seems huge and no one is particularly interested in seeing the performance anyways (except maybe my mom).
Three years ago this friend's sister passed away, then she got married, had a horrendous pregnancy and a beautiful baby, then her dad was diagnosed with cancer, then her mom was, then her mom recovered, then her dad passed away. She told me she has no pity for herself, people go through harder things – I guess so, that’s not what I would be saying if I was her.
When my dad was really sick and we didn’t know if he would make it I remember sobbing like a mad man in my bathroom, noisy and snotty and barely breathing - and yet, somehow pain can be so much worse than that. I started to think about how unfair life can be. Her dad and my dad were diagnosed with cancer around the same time and her dad had a better prognosis, but he didn’t survive and my dad did. It’s so cruel. I need an alarm to go off in my head so I never forget how lucky I am to have my dad still with me, and I never forget to grieve with my dear friend for her great loss.
She talks about peace, like it’s this tangible thing you can’t really know until you know. When I look at her grief and am struck by her capacity to smile, I can attempt to imagine her pain but I guess I can’t imagine the kind of peace that comes with it. It’s a secret potion that we don’t get until we desperately need it. It helps us be ok when so many others aren’t, or when logic says we shouldn’t be. There in the middle of it, it is only by the grace of God that we survive and even thrive and somehow my sweet friend has more joy than me.
I left breakfast and tiny was rightfully tiny again. Petty was in its place. Her pain gave me gratitude, her gratitude made me weep, her peace gave me perspective and my flattened theatre helped me see.