It’s all about the small things…
This weekend, Diane and I saw an excellent film titled—“The fault in our stars”. It’s about two teenagers, diagnosed with terminal cancer, who meet each other in a cancer support group. It’s a tearjerker for sure—hardly holiday fare. We see mortality through the eyes of teenagers, who are the world’s greatest philosophers. But without giving away the story (Of course, they do fall in love…), the movie highlights important themes that we can all learn from.
It reminded me of a life changing experience of my own. Some years ago, I led a support group for adults with terminal cancer. We met weekly for several years, until most members (but not everyone!), passed away. The participants ranged from 35-75 years old, from all walks of life. We became very close during our sojourn together. It was an emotionally tough experience for me. I became close to several of the members and helped them through their journey to the natural end of their lives. Like in the “The fault in our stars”, the strength and courage of these cancer patients were an inspiration to their families and friends. I learned a great deal from each one of them. Here are some of the lessons they taught me…
You don’t have to be dying to review and re-order your priorities. The diagnosis of cancer sends folks into a radical revamping of their lives. What is important to me? Are those elements front and center in my everyday life? How do I want to spend my remaining days, months and years? Periodically, it is important to examine how you are living your life and make modifications to bring yourself back to what’s important to you. You don’t have to have cancer to reflect on your life.
Savor the small moments. Our days are bursting with a vast number of small moments that are filled with life. As I write this, I am drinking smoky, hot coffee listening to the rain dance on my roof. It’s very early morning and I am the only one awake. Stop. Listen to the rain, smell the cool, wet air of each early morning, feel the warmth of a summer day, admire the beauty of your family, and gaze at the landscape around you. Take it all in–breathe and release.
It’s not so easy to do this during the “crazy busy” times of family life, when little kids are tearing up the living room or teens are making their legal arguments about extending their curfew during Christmas break. During those years it’s difficult to sharpen our awareness and seize the moment.
When my children were young, I realized that their childhood would fly by like a shooting star. I made the decision to drink deeply of our small moments together and to be fully present when I was with them. To a large degree, I did.
Earlier this year, as my mother came to the end of her life, I savored many moments with her—holding her hand, watching her sleep, and listening to the parrots sing outside of her Florida window. While I am sad now that I will have no more of those experiences, I am grateful that I fully appreciated those fleeting instants.
And yes, it’s all about love. These two teens know their love would be like a flash of lightening in a summer sky. It would last only for an instant. But, at the end of the day, it’s love that sustains us, holds us, and lifts us up to the stars.