My girlfriend from the west coast was in town, so we met for dinner. I gave her a pad of poopoo paper I'd been saving for her. Nothing says "I've been thinking of you" like a gift made from real poo. She was pleased. I bet her three kids are going to get a kick out of it.
Our conversation centred on health-related topics. She has just done a 3-week cleanse. How her parents are doing. What it was like saying goodbye to her aunt who just died of cancer. Of course I told her about the goings on and passings on in my life. We talked about our parents' health, our husbands' health, special diets, who is allergic to what...
It seems to me that sometime during this year I crossed the border into another country without realizing it. There was no welcome sign, no customs official demanding documentation or a pat-down, no duty-free gift shop. But I looked up one day and found myself in the Land of Middle Age. It seems like everyone who wandered in this realm unawares is dealing with health problems, and/or aging parents, and/or they are an aging parent. I hear myself saying the phrase "my husband's cardiologist" and think that it's too soon for this. I expected to make it to at least 40, maybe even 45, before I had to worry about the health of my peers. Granted, my friends tend to be a few years older than me, but still. Ken isn't even turning 37 for another month.
This isn't a complaint so much as an attempt to get oriented on this new turf. I mean, it had to happen sooner or later, and the truth is that lots of people have to face the fragility and mortality of themselves and their loved ones much earlier than this. Yes, I feel a certain amount of dismay and resistance. That's only human. I also know that I have to adjust to my new reality. I must find the courage to stick by my loved ones through hard times as well as good ones. I want to be a reassuring, uplifting presence in their lives.
My primary goal is to be a channel for faith, love, and joy into the lives of anyone close enough to me to be affected.
Suffering is inescapable. Faith lies in believing that suffering occurs in the service of a larger plan, one we cannot fully understand, in which suffering leads in the end to something good, something worth it all. I see how my breakdown led directly to the healing of my relationship with my mother, and I feel that it was well worth it. I would go through every agonizing minute all over again if I had to, to gain a relationship that I've been grieving my whole life.
Sometimes it seems that no good will ever come of suffering, but when I think of everyone I know, the people who have been through the darkest times and the most pain are the ones who have turned out to be the most kind, compassionate, and caring people. Painful experiences break you, and if you have the good fortune to be able to heal, you are reborn with a new heart.
How do you deal with suffering?