We find ourself at the end of a year and the beginning of new one. This past year brought presumed victory over a foe that we never could have imagined our dear daughter would have to fight. Her journey towards health was chronicled over many months on a Caring Bride site that brought us to you and you to us. The site helped us to keep concerned friends and family up to date. In the midst of the functional updating of the treatment progress and setbacks, there were many lessons I learned and we learned that were applicable to how to live our lives outside of the challenge we faced.
My hope is that this site can provide a new beginning. A place to focus on sharing what we learned, the stuff that we all should take to heart as we walk through this wild ride called life. Separating it from the medical, expanding on it – as insights and messages and lessons are everywhere – if you are aware and present enough to see them.
The name of this blog comes from one of these powerful insights – one that was made obvious to me on one of my most challenging days during her journey.
As the story goes, we moved across the country to get the best treatment we thought we could get. It was a lonely and scary thing to do, despite all the confidence we had in the reasons behind the decision and the wonderful support we had far away from home. We missed our family, our friends, the comfort of the medical team we had come to rely upon and who had seen us through some very, very scary days. We missed the comfort of the familiar Children’s hospital that we had come to find ourselves in over many nights.
The hospital we chose was absolutely top notch, #1 banners hung throughout. What it had in pedigree and capability, it lacked slightly in amenities for kids. In a big city, a well-heeled hospital can only expand so far out and up. So, rooms were at premium on the kids wing of this fantastic, but non-kids’ hospital. The research we did was exhaustive, however, the rooms for our required overnights somehow didn’t make the research cut.
As such, we found ourselves for our first overnight in a shared room. A small shared room. A very small shared room. On the side without any access or visibility to the window.
While I had been able to be brave through quite a few very hard things over the months that led up to that day, I admit, I sat in the tiny hospital chair, wedged between the bed and the wall, staring straight ahead, trying to keep myself from crying. I didn’t do very well and the tears started to sneak out. I answered the questions I had to answer from the kind, capable nurses, I thought about how I was going to be the cheery camp counselor of this phase and I literally froze. I had nothing more to give at that moment.
And then, she looked at me…my dear, sweet, sick daughter, she looked at me with a big smile and said “this is the BEST chemo round I’ve had so far, Mom! We get to be so close to one another!” I looked at her – astonished – and felt this wave of calm and peace and love and joy come over me.
Like the Grinch, I felt it, my heart growing in size, in courage and wisdom that day. It said that my life, our lives should not be defined by getting a room with a view, rather by seeing the beauty of the view within your room. There is so much beauty in so many things so close by. If we can just be present enough to see them.
So, while we all tend to look outwards, to find beauty and purpose and meaning and definition around us and from the things we have or do or create, I do believe that we all too often are searching and seeking and looking outwards when beauty and the important stuff resides in simple things right beside us. The simple gifts of this beautiful, messy, wonderful life. The simple gifts we possess inside to do sometimes unremarkable, but truly amazing things. Small things consistently over time can make a really big difference.
With that, we start anew. I started anew that day. We powered through that treatment and many more. We got rooms in that hospital to ourselves. We had fantastic views of the river and the city and sunrises and sunsets that I’ll never forget. We shared rooms with people who were really struggling, some who were really lonely and some who weren’t particularly thoughtful or kind. We tried to create some sunshine for those who seemed to need it. And, there’s lesson in that, too. If you don’t see beauty in your room, look harder. There has to be some there. Or, create it. If you see something ugly in or outside of it, try to throw some beauty or kindness on it. We all possess the power to do so. We can all make the choice to do so.
While I think I understood the basic premise of this, I believe that I wouldn’t have had the true insight without that first tiny room. And, frankly, some of those days in those nice rooms were not as cheery or easy as the one we shared that day, wedged next to the wall.
When I think of this, one of the most powerful and simple lessons learned through a very difficult thing, I remember how helpful it was during our tough journey and how helpful it is still today.
I share with you with the hope it will remind you to not allow those simple gifts to slip by. I share it with the hope that you will create beauty where it needs to be created.
Cheers to a new year ahead, and the possibilities you create in how you live your life each day.