I have a friend who is going through a very rough debilitating illness. It gets progressively worse, there is no cure, and someday it will end her life. The pain of this illness has sucked her into a great depression. She has her good days and bad days though the bad days seem to take over more often now. To see pictures of her you would not guess she is so sick, that's because she always seems to have a smile on her face. Two things seem to put that great smile on her face--her children and horses.
Nothing I say or do can take away her pain and that is difficult for me because I have always been a person who wants to ease other people's suffering. I want to make them feel better. In this case, what can I do? I can be her friend, listen to her, reassure her, and just be there for her when she needs me.
As I get older I learn more from my life experiences and the people I meet. My hope is that through my experiences I become a better person. I feel that there is a great lesson to be learned from my friend, something about appreciating life, friendship, and dealing with pain. I'm not afraid to say that I don't appreciate life as much as I should. I know I am not the only one either. I am also quite sure I do not put into it and get out of it what my friend has even in all her pain. I can't believe I'm about to use a TV metaphor to explain this but... "Dying changes everything"... is basically true. It changes how you look at life, how you handle everything from the moment you find out that it's happening to you.
My friend and I are the same age, less than two months apart. I think about how much pain she is in, how she has everything to live for. She really appreciates life and so desperately wants to hold on to all the wonderful things she has and live as normal a life as possible. Then I think about myself and how I am still trying to figure out how to live my life and enjoy it. I try but I'm still not there. You know how you can look at a picture of someone smiling and you can see how much they absolutely love their life, all in that one smile? I want to be that person. I just don't know how to get there. What does it take? When do we figure it out? Do we really ever get it?
And so the lesson continues...