Yesterday, my Mastermind partner asked me if I had been reading obituaries. Not really, I replied, it was kind of a hard thing to do. A few hours after our conversation, I found out that a woman I knew had just died. I didn’t know her well, but it hit hard. She could have been me. She was approximately my age, with children the same age as mine. We used to work at the same place doing similar jobs. Our sons are on the same hockey team. For some reason, cancer chose her, and after a long fight, she finally passed away yesterday.
As I sat in a poorly chosen line at the car wash, I sobbed. Then I became frustrated with the slow lady washing her car. Then I laughed at how ridiculous I was to be cranky about waiting. Then I sobbed again. This lasted for half an hour (she really was slow) and the whole time I moved between tears, laughter, growls, and more tears.
I was glad I was alone because it felt sort of ridiculous to be that upset about someone I didn’t even really know – a handful of conversations maybe. She seemed kind and gentle. I wondered if she had always been that way, or if her illness had changed her in some way.
It’s 3:00 am here and I woke up from a nightmare where some shapeless, nameless thing that I couldn’t see was trying to drag me away. I lay awake, not wanting to go back to that place. I tried to send thoughts of peace and love to her family. Then I tried to sleep. Then I thought: damn, how grateful would she be if she could have woken up like me this morning? Woken up to her beautiful children, to another day with the ones she loves.
So, I get it. I get why the obituaries. I am so grateful. Grateful to be alive and tired. Grateful my feet hurt. Grateful for the laundry I have to do today and the bills I have to pay. Grateful that I found this course and made changes in my life so that I can be here in my life, loving my children with everything I have.
The human experience is strange that way. It takes death to appreciate life. Sad times to appreciate the happy ones. A bad cold to appreciate the day you wake up healthy. Up and down we go – and I am so grateful for it all.