It has been eleven years since my husband, Michael, died. On July 4th, 2001, my beautiful man left this earth to the booming magnificent accompaniment of fireworks. He always loved the 4th of July, often proclaiming that it and Valentine’s Day were his favorite holidays. Fireworks and romance…I was one lucky woman!
I remember the moment we got the news that Michael had cancer. The intense clarity is something to behold from a woman who most days cannot remember much of the previous ones. I recall what everyone said, the clothes we were wearing, and the intense burning nausea which rendered me weak when strength was required and useless when help was so needed. All I could think was “why?”
I honestly believed that after all I had been through, living through a death sentence, losing my limbs, and having to find a new “me” in the midst of disabilities; I had proven myself a survivor. Had I not come out of the darkness with my head held high, promising to be the best person I could possibly be? Had I not personally sacrificed enough to spare the people I loved?
I had been told that I was a living miracle, that I had overcome my Dr.’s proclamation of “no hope.” So, why, after pulling through, dodging the big guns, did my beloved husband have to bear his own prognosis of no hope? And yet, there we were sitting in the Dr.’s office, eyes downcast, shaking our heads in disbelief. We were dealing with another low blow…this one lower than I could have ever imagined. The thought of life without Michael destroyed my sense of natural order. What happened to growing old together and gently fading away after a long fulfilling life?
Michael’s diagnosis sent me into an emotional cyclone. My emotions were whirling around me so intensely and so quickly, that I couldn’t breathe let alone think. But he needed an anchor. It was my turn to help him weather this storm, as he had helped me just a few years earlier. I choked back the tears, planted my fake feet on solid ground, and prayed for another miracle.
Michael and I began to talk about what had happened to us over the past few years. We even chuckled in disbelief…the irony of our situation. One life spared—another life taken….tit for tat? But when we discussed our circumstances seriously, desperately trying to make sense of it all, we concluded that we were paying our dues to spare our children. By taking on our own personal natural disasters—all that we had weathered thus far, we believed our children would be unscathed by the world of disease. I have to admit that our magical thinking got us through a multitude of storms.
It took me awhile, after Michael’s death, to learn how to breathe again. I sought out my survivor self, my children in tow, and emerged from the inferno of despair. It was then when I began to realize how miraculous my life truly was. Had I died, my children would have to grow up without parents…no one to love them like I could. It was my children who promoted my healing, and who demanded my full attention. It was their miraculous lives which brought me back to the land of the living.
Through the years I have come to understand that in spite of what curses us or blesses us, we are all miraculous. Recognition of that knowledge provides the foundation for breathing when life sucks the air out of us. When you believe in the miracle of your own life, it is impossible to be disparaging of your living. When you believe in the miracle of your own life, living becomes purposeful and your own diagnosis of “no hope” becomes non-existent.
Believing in your own miraculous life is essential to the survivor within you. When you acknowledge that amazing miracle in front of you, your own reflection in the mirror each morning, you are assured an amazing day…a day worthy of a miracle!