Please watch this video if you're like me and sometimes forget how fortunate we really are. Most of us aren't hearing a terminal diagnosis or seeing a loved one die. Maybe we already have, or will have in the future, but the reality of it is: we all suffer in some way, whether emotional or physical. There is good and bad - positive and negative. And without the negative, we are not able to fully see the positive. When we witness those grim days, we also witness relief. If you can't view the video below, please click here.
Back in January of 2012, I clearly remember one of the directors of the oncology department coming into Dad's room while he was having lunch. He was sitting up in the reclining chair just to get a different 'feel' for the room that he was stuck in for days, sometimes even weeks. He was in ~okay~ spirits that day. My mom had just ordered him a chicken salad sandwich with some fruit and coffee. The director asked who we were and how we were all related before she went to give him the worst news of his life. First let me backtrack just a sec… We already knew Dad was terminal. The doctors told us this already. Thing is - we wanted to give him hope, so…we didn't tell him. If we were to have told him, he would have given up.
"Charlie, I'm here to talk to you."
Dad just stared at her, so sick of "talks" and doctors' long-winded jargon.
"Have you made preparations?"
"Have you made preparations for your family? You only have at most, 6 months to live."
Dad's eyes widened, as if he had seen a ghost. He dropped his plastic fork on the slide out table and started banging on the arm of his chair in frustration. I saw tears streaming down his cheek and then saw Mom's eyes widen, entirely black, full of rage.
Mom cried out, "Let our family talk about this by ourselves! Just leave us be!"
"We're all going to die," she said, as if this would make the situation any better. "I can die tomorrow from an accident. We are all mortal."
Not good enough.
I tried holding it together, because for me, this was the first time hearing a concrete life sentence. I quickly grabbed the lady by the arm and asked if I could speak to her outside in the hallway. As I was telling her about our plan - to not tell Dad about his "sentence", she was swaying from left to right, as if ducking from physical punches that weren't being thrown. She was incredibly nervous, and rightfully so. I told her that I understood this is protocol for her job, but not this time.
Not this time.
That evening when I was in the elevator in silence with Mom, I didn't play the game of "who's here for who and why" - but more so, replaying the words of that oncology director and the coldness that swept through her lips so easily, so effortlessly, as if we were used to hearing this type of thing. I wonder if the people in the elevator were wondering why we were there. At that point, I didn't care about anything else other than what I had just experienced and heard for the first time.
You truly cannot appreciate the good things in life if you haven't experienced the lesser. For instance, I used to take for granted pain-free days because I never experienced back problems before. Today? I'm ecstatic that I can fully walk around without falling from my leg going numb from my sciatica. I appreciate every single person in my life who's healthy and doing well, because I have seen the total opposite for the very first time within my immediate family. It's not that I ever took my family for granted, but sometimes you get into this sort of mindset like, "This'll never happen to our family." And it does. And it will.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. ~Ecclesiastes 3
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