It is, I think, a fact of human nature that we believe our path is straight and smooth. Of course, we know that it is anything but, that it is filled with twists and turns and that our internal GPS has to recalculate over and over again. Even after we complete a struggle, live through a loss, course correct and the like, we often lull ourselves—once again— into thinking that life is stable and static and we can clearly see what lies ahead.
This past week I had the opportunity to see a dear friend I had not seen in some time. While we are geographically distant, we’ve been routinely in touch and have shared words and calls in good times and difficult times. She is a person that you cannot help but love, her warmth and genuine caring envelop everyone who has the gift of her presence. My mother used to say “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.” She lived those words. My friend does as well.
Like many of us, my friend’s road has been a bumpy one. As a young woman she battled breast cancer and won. Today she is fighting a variety of complex medical issues and the outlook is less than optimistic. Each time there seemed to be a solution, an option, maybe even a cure, things went awry. The path forward, which seemed well defined, now feels overgrown and hard to see, much less navigate.
It would be easy to ask why and rail against the unfairness of it all. It would be easy to feel anger and self-pity and hopelessness. But my friend, whose light still shines brightly, is doing none of those things. She’s journaling memories for her children and grandchildren, she’s being clear about what she will and won’t do with respect to health decisions, she’s continuing to think about and ask about others—and to care about the answers she receives.
I’ve thought a lot about her since I saw her. I thought about the tears we both had in our eyes when we hugged hello and when we hugged farewell. I thought about the way that she is living her life, with fullness, with commitment, with passion and with grace.
May we all find grace when our journeys are complex and challenging. May we all find a way to live every day and every minute with love and commitment. May we all have friends who are with us on our journey, who will forever live in our hearts.