Tuesday, May 31, 2011

(the hard question-- await the opportunity)
     Although there is no such thing as a “stupid question,” there certainly are such things as scary and difficult questions.  These are the questions that you really don’t want to ask because you’re afraid of the answers. Believe me, I have asked those questions along my journey of being a survivor, not because I wanted to know the truth at the end of those questions, but because I needed to know. I have asked and continue to ask the difficult and scary questions because without the knowledge that the answers bring, I cannot be prepared for the inevitable.  I have found that my anxiety level is greatly reduced even when the answer I receive is not the one I want.
     One of the saddest days of my life came less than a week before my husband, Michael, died.  We were at the oncologist’s office, for a regularly scheduled appointment.  Michael had been fighting long and hard to survive the cancer he had been diagnosed with twenty months earlier.  But it was becoming quickly apparent that the cancer had taken the upper hand.  My husband was sliding downhill at a rapid pace. We sat holding hands before the doctor entered the examination room. 
     I was sick with grief, but I knew that our time was limited, and we needed to tell our children that their father was not going to win the battle. “Do you think another type of treatment would work?” Michael’s desperate plea caught me completely off guard.  He did not want to give up…he didn’t want to leave me and our two little boys. But I knew by looking at my wasted hollow eyed husband that victory over this war was not ours. And I also knew that nothing we did or could do would work.  Our children needed and deserved to know the truth, as did Michael…as did I.
When the doctor entered the room, I could tell by his somber and sad-eyed expression that the results of the latest tests verified what I knew in my heart.  The question loomed large, and I was the one who had to ask it. My voice was shaking with mounting emotion as I asked,”how long does he have?” The answer, “days, maybe a few weeks,” jarred both of us.  I knew we were close, but I thought we had a month maybe more.  
      Michael and I were devastated by the rapid decline of his life…we both knew that the end was imminent, but having the medical verification of the limited time actually gave us the gift of time. Armed with the knowledge that it was “now or never,” we utilized every second to its fullest. I was able to share with Michael my most intimate thoughts and feelings-the ones I always held closest to my heart. I told him how his love transformed me, and made me feel whole even when my body was limited and missing parts. I confessed that I was terrified to parent our children alone, in a newly “disabled” body. And I made promises that my disabilities would not hinder our children’s growth or self-esteem…that I would aspire to be the best parent possible.
      We were able to share total intimacy in complete honesty. There were no boundaries between us; there was simply truth, and it was beautiful, and lovely and amazingly freeing.  Had we not known that his time was so short, we would not have had the opportunity for those incredibly profound moments.
     As you travel along your own journey of being a survivor, you will sometimes come across those times when you need to ask the scary or hard question.  Chances are, you already know the answer, but you need to have the verification of that knowledge. And sometimes the parameters surrounding the answer are a bit different than what you think or anticipate. But the bottom line is this; when you ask the question, and get the answer, you then open yourself up to opportunity--regardless of what that answer holds.
Being a survivor means asking the hard questions, taking the opportunity which arises from the answers, and running with it. And most of the time the scariest and hardest questions of all reap the most incredibly beautiful and life-changing opportunities.  

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