As I go along, life has a way of teaching me what I need to know. To hand out the right lesson plan in the right order. Recently, I was feeling a little blue, slightly down. Learning that you have emphysema when you have never smoked is hard. Being told that you have smoker's lungs is a blow. When I am left to acknowledge that my parents gave me one last gift. One last thing to overcome, well I was depressed. And as if on cue, I got my comeuppance. The TV is always on in my house. Usually several of them. I go from room to room never missing a moment of a good movie or show. And so, just like every other day I was flitting here and there with the white noise of the television hummed in the background. While struggling with something being wrong that I could not fix. I received my life lesson. I heard his voice before I saw him. He had a smooth strong voice and that is what caught my attention at first. That late night DJ kind of timber that made you just want to sit down and listen. I stopped what I was doing to hear his words. I caught him mid sentence "I lost both of my leg and my arms as well, but I was alive. Thank God, I was still alive." Well, isn't that just what I needed to hear? I was put in my place by a man with no limbs. Who had far more to deal with than me. Who came out of a war zone with less than he went in with and still, he smiled. He saw hope and love and he was genuinely thankful.
Oh, it hit me hard. I had been tested and I had failed. Not flunked out surely, but I was going to have to do extra credit to lift myself off the D list. I am always learning. There are pop quizzes and exams and I will get it wrong more than right. This dear man who had so many reasons to be depressed, to give up, had not. He had acknowledged his loss and then he had remembered his blessings. And so must I. I cannot heal my lungs. There are not bad habits to kick. Except for that age ole game of victim. I must get cleared to move about. To get off this couch and move. I must work to make my body strong. I must retract the white flag I have been flying and I must push on. I may not have all the years I thought I might have. But, I am still here. It could be so much worse. I must bow my head and give thanks. I have so much. I am truly blessed.
That is the thing about having so many blessings, sometimes you miss place them. There are a lot to keep up with. There are the obvious ones. The ones that ground. My husband, my children, Edgar...I could go on and on. And still sometimes I forget. I get overwhelmed living my future in my head. Perusing in the land of what if and skipping over to maybe for a quick check of unreality. Of what might be and never was. Sometimes I linger. I play out things in my imagination, the only time I hate the fact that I have a vivid imagination. I worry and I put roadblocks up where there are none. It takes me back to another time. When there was not enough to eat. The clothes were all secondhand. When it was common for there to be a 3 day notice to pay or vacate on the door. When checks were made of rubber and they bounced all over town. And payday only meant that I was a little less broke than I had been the day before. All those years ago when I was hanging by threads and praying that I could find a way to have "enough". Enough money, enough time and of course enough love. And here I sit so many years removed from that pauper and I forget. I forget that my prayer was to not be hungry or broke. That the lights would stay on and the mail box empty of bills. My prayers were all granted.
I have those things. I had never said anything about health. My lot is not hard. No one should feel sorry for me. I do not. I am working my way through this. I am learning to accept this. I have come too damn far to lay down now. I have new heros now. I used to want hair like Farrah Fawcett and a face like Sophia Loren. Skin like Meg Ryan, before she messed with her face. I aspired to be beautiful and if I could not hit that well, pretty was fine or even cute. Oh and did I say thin? These were my personal goals. So, it should not be surprising that when life got real my role models had nothing to offer me but spa treatments and diet plans. Now I have other mentors. A 14 year old who risked her life to help girls get an education. A man who found the love of his life and bore witness as she faded away. Cancer stole her away. He documented it all. No matter how gaunt, pale or hairless she became, he told her she was beautiful. And she was. Far more so than any celebrity. A man who has more to worry about than how much he weights. Besides the fact that he dropped a good 50 pounds in some foreign country. Things he can never gain back. Blood and bone, muscle and tissue. Gone. These are my heros now.
I cry for them. Amazed by grace their and strength. In awe of their beauty. And now when I pray, I add them in. I am thankful they are there. Letting me know that I can do this. If a limbless man can count his blessings and go on with living, well so can I. Life is not about fairness. It is not about what we deserve. It is about what we do with what we are given. It is about learning and teaching and loving. I am setting this here. Incase I forget. Incase, I lose my way in a place I do not belong. There is nothing for me in a world made up of negatives and conjectures. One more thing, I learned from that man, even if you get dumped into the sea, if you lose your boat completely. If swimming is not an option....float. It takes less mental energy then choosing to drown.
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