In her book “The Year of Pleasures” Elizabeth Berg writes of a woman who loses her husband to cancer. The book focuses mainly on her life after his death. She touches tentatively on the time after his diagnosis, their brief months shared before she became a widow. This quote summed it up for me:
“It seemed to me that this was the way we all lived: full to the brim with gratitude and joy one day, wrecked on the rocks the next. Finding the balance between the two was the art and the salvation.”
When I first read this book quite some time ago I found a much different message than the one I see with the eyes I have now. Now my best friend is battling Multiple Myeloma. You can read about attempting to Laugh at Death here.
Is there balance in a life approaching its expiration date too soon?
Can balance exist in a life with an unknown, far distance expiration date?
Ms. Berg is right. At least, it feels true. We all live this way. Well, maybe not all of us. Maybe just me. And anyone who has cancer or loves someone who has cancer. Particularly if that cancer can’t be cured.
Finding a balance between gratitude and wrecked? Between full to the brim and smashed to smithereens on the rocks of despair? It just seems impossible some days.
Maybe it isn’t finding the balance, but in trying to find the balance that something happens. After all, it’s “the art and the salvation.”
Do I even know what I’m talking about or am I just flailing about looking for answers?
Here’s additional advice from Ms. Berg’s beautiful novel. It’s from the dying husband to the wife who will try to go on living after he’s gone:
“Don’t get too hungry, too tired or too sad.”
That’s good advice for anyone in any situation. It’s particularly great advice if you’re in mourning, or anticipating the unknown yet certain pain of loss through death.
I’m not sure it’s possible to control being “too sad” or even “too tired” when death takes its scythe to someone we love. I wonder if there really is such a thing as “too sad”?
My life is currently incredibly blessed. I’m almost embarrassed by the richness of the plate set before me; “full to the brim with gratitude and joy” very aptly describes now. Makes me a bit nervous, to tell you the truth.
At the same time I am riding the waves aimed for wretched rocks as I write. There is no getting off this particular wave. Cancer and death will take what they have battled long for. And I will be left empty in spite of all the brimming cups of joy and gratitude that lay in my path and swirl in the very air I breathe. And then what?
I can’t imagine the next thing.
I suppose I will try to not get too hungry, too tired or too sad and I will try to find a new fulcrum from which to attempt a balance between wretched and grateful.
Until I have to try that particular new something I will revel in every moment given me.
Call me dramatic. Call me pessimistic. Call me Pollyanna. Call me anything.
I won’t hear you.
I’ll be busy trying.
Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full? You tell me. I’m in over my head.
(The Daily Post at WordPress.com: The Glass)