If you are a Downtown Abbey fan you know all too well that tragedy has struck the Grantham household again and again. As Tom Branson recently told his sister-in-law, Mary, the two of them have been hurt and no matter what they do they will no doubt be hurt again. It is the stuff of life for everyone. We can’t escape illnesses, disappointments, failures, or death. We would love to have a perfect life without any bitter surprises but that is just not the way things work.
I have so many friends who are having great fun today in far away places like Puerto Rico and London. At this moment they must have smiles and on their faces and few cares to spoil their enjoyable vacations but we’ve all heard stories about unexpected events that rocked the very foundations of friends or relatives just when they least expected it. The death of Justice Scalia this past weekend is a reminder to all of us that no matter how important or powerful we are, we can’t escape the inevitability of our ultimate demise.
I’m not one to dwell on the uglier realities of life. I take each day as it comes and when the going gets rough, I take each hour as it unfolds. I began this current week with a picture perfect Valentine’s Day. I had a yummy brunch with Mike and spent time in a bookstore selecting a new novel to read. I tutored my granddaughter for an upcoming test and finished the day with dinner at my eldest daughter’s home in the company of three of my grandsons. What could have been better?
On Monday my luck held. The day was as gorgeous as any that I have ever experienced in February and, even better, I met a former student for lunch who got me up to date on her own success as well as a number of her friends. It was a very happy and rewarding time for me because it allowed me to see the fruits of my educational labors unfolding in real time. Later that afternoon I gave my granddaughter one final review session before her test. Life was looking very good.
Tuesday became more mundane, which is another feature of existence. More often than not we are involved in a never ending routine that provides little excitement but may actually be of great consequence. It is in the small things that we do from day to day that our essence really unfolds. Those smiles that we flash at a stranger may be more powerful than we might imagine. The dinner that we prepare for our family members is something that they may one day remember with a sense of nostalgia. Everyone may appear to take the clothes that we wash for granted but when we don’t do that task there is not a soul who doesn’t notice the lack of clean garments. There is a certain pleasant sameness about exceptionally common days that is reassuring. We wouldn’t want to have endless excitement. We need the calm because surely a storm is brewing of which we are not yet aware.
By Wednesday my serenity and complacency were tested just a bit when I noted posts from friends and family members indicating a need for prayers. Some had just lost loved ones. Others were undergoing very serious medical tests. One had arrived home to find her apartment robbed and vandalized. My granddaughter was experiencing such severe headaches that she was unable to stay at school, a very unusual circumstance for her. I wavered just a bit but found solace in working in my backyard. Nature always seems to come to the rescue just when I am moving toward a low point in my mood.
Thursday was a mixed blessing. The pain of my granddaughter’s headache had increased exponentially even though she was taking a cluster of medications prescribed by her pediatrician. My daughter was becoming frantic and quietly I was trying to talk myself out of freaking out. My mental balance was saved at a track meet in which my twin grandsons competed. Each of them handily won his races. They ran like gazelles, so effortlessly. I reflected on how beautiful the human body can be when it is loosed to reach a moment of sheer perfection. It was wonderful to have this diversion and to know that those boys are so happy and talented. I was able to set aside my fears for my granddaughter and it helped me to gain a bit of perspective about her health problems.
This morning I went to South Houston Intermediate to do some tutoring. I so love those kids. I hope that they know that. They provide me with so much more than I will ever be able to give them in return. They calm the wildness of my mind and provide me with a purpose beyond myself.
Now I am riding to Dallas to attend a Harry Potter birthday party for the son of one of my nephews. I’ll get to see my only female cousin while I am there as well. I talked with my granddaughter as we rolled along the highway. She has been to see her doctor and now has some new medications. This afternoon she will have an MRI and have some blood tests to determine what exactly is happening to her. She sounded very brave when I spoke with her. I am putting my faith in her doctors, her parents and the good Lord. At this point all that I can really do is pray for healing and strength for her and her parents who are worrying enough for all of us.
I hope that everything turns out well but I also understand that the road ahead may instead be trying. This is a fact of life. We find great joy. We become bored with the sameness of our lives. We receive sudden and unwelcome jolts of reality. It is who we are as people. The only thing over which we have a modicum of control is the way in which we react to whatever is happening in the moment.
The road and the day is lovely. As Scarlet O’Hara so famously said, “‘llI think about that tomorrow” with regard to my worries and cares. For now I am at peace with the world just as it is. There may come a time when I will have to steel my courage and step up to horrors that I really don’t want to experience. What I have learned from my past is that I have everything that I need to make it through even the most terrible times, especially when I remember that I am not alone.
For those who are suffering today I can only offer my sympathy and willingness to help. I can’t make the troubles go away but I can ease some of the pain that they bring. Take the horrific times one small step at a time. Remember that we all get hurt but we also heal and recover. We are on this crazy seesaw together and if we have the patience to wait just a bit we will rise up to better times.
Take care everyone. Enjoy the majesty of this gorgeous February day and love with all of your heart. Don’t hold back because you are afraid of being hurt for it is in truly living that we are ultimately rewarded with the greatest happiness.