It is a beautiful time of transition! As we now head into the Spring, it warms my soul to behold the vibrant green grass and abundant, beautiful wild flowers, all well-nourished and striving to touch the sun. Moving from a long season of drought, to seemingly endless months of dreary rain, and now emerging and thriving in warm days under beautiful blue umbrellas of sky, I feel like the dark days are nearly over and I rejoice in the hopeful, brighter days ahead.
Thankfully, I am also transitioning to a new season; moving away from endless doctor appointments and arduous treatments for me (AND MY FAMILY), placing our entire focus and energy into fighting and enduring, and proceeding to a new refreshed place, where I have the time and space to reflect and plan and dream.
Yes, I do still have surgery and treatments ahead of me, but compared to the way things were, our future pathways feel very manageable and hopeful. We are all experiencing a newfound sense of freedom and joy.
Today, as I was walking around the Newport Beach Back Bay with my dear friend Margo (like we have so many, many times before), she and I were catching up and sharing our epiphanies (like we have so many, many times before!)
Actually, in the moment, the depth of my sharing didn’t seem all that inspiring. It was actually Margo’s interpretation that moved my surface observations to the realm of being more thought provoking.
Here’s what happened:
Me: (Having just returned from working out with my trainer at the gym) “You know what I think is kind of amazing? I have battled my weight for my entire adult life, always yearning to be healthy, lean and muscular (like our friend Donna Jones). I have tried and tried and tried to lose weight, but have continuously yo-yo’d back to the same old fluffy body I started with. Now, thanks to cancer (?), I actually am in the realm, for the first time, of realizing that dream! Yes, right now I am too lean (huh? How is that possible?), but if I keep on keepin’ on at the gym and with my new way of eating, I can realistically foresee a whole new, healthier, stronger me in my future!”
“And you know what else? For a long time, I’ve been wondering how to transition away from my endless hours of coloring my hair and moving to my natural, gray state. How could I get there? Biting the bullet and letting things grow out naturally or shaving my head just wasn’t an option. Now, thanks to cancer (?), that is no longer an issue. I REALLY like my pixie-short, gray hair!”
Then Margo moved our conversation from seemingly surface things to deeper observations worth pondering.
Margo: “You know what I THINK is amazing? It’s that you are consistently able to see rich blessings even in cancer.”
I haven’t stopped to think about it in this way, although I do agree that I have experienced blessings after blessings throughout the last year, in the midst of my battle. It may seem kind of “Polly-Anna” that this is my claim. But I assure you, there was nothing fictional, about it. If you have about an hour or more, I can give you lists and lists of all the blessings we have experienced. They just came to me, over and over again. These blessings beautifully carried us through an otherwise really dark time. They were a huge part of my recovery.
As we walked and talked, Margo theorized that the reason I have seen so many blessings is because I was open to them, as opposed to being closed off. She shared that, in her own life journey, she has been less apt to experience blessings, because she “didn’t want to, and therefore, couldn’t” see them.
Margo has traveled a journey that NO ONE would ever sign-up for.
You see, nearly 30 years ago, Margo and her husband Joe shared the blessed event of bringing their baby boy Andrew into this world. This was certainly a joyous occasion! But their joy was soon and drastically disrupted, when they learned that their precious baby boy had a brain tumor. His prognosis and life expectancy was bleak, to say the least. This began a lifetime of life-saving cancer treatments and multiple surgeries that became their highest priority.
In the midst of their journey with Andrew, God gave Margo and Joe two more beautiful children, Matt and Ali. As a family, they loved each other well and cleaved together, united and focused on caring for Andrew, who outlived all the doctors’ expectations.
For more than 25 years, Andrew brought inexplicable joy and love to his family and to all who knew him. Then sadly, a few years ago, Andrew lost his battle and passed from this earth to heaven.
As you can imagine, his loss has been nearly unbearable for his family. For my friend Margo, every day has been a battle to carry on without Andrew here with us. I am in awe of my dear friend, who daily digs deep to seek God and carry on. As he looks down from heaven, I know Andrew is so very proud of his brave mom.
As we walked and talked about the nature of blessings in our lives, Margo slowly began to recall memories she was happy to share with me: Like the time that their family was visited by an “angel” at the entrance to Disneyland, who seemingly came out of nowhere to present them all free passes to the theme park, so they could all celebrate Andrew’s 25th birthday without the financial burden. That was undeniably a blessing; a sweet reminder of the kindness of people around us. Even strangers can bless us by meeting our needs in surprising ways.
As she talked, we cried. It was such a sweet moment.
I don’t think Margo realizes that she is more open to see her blessings than she thinks. Every day that we walk beside the bay, she glances at the ground and finds a heart-shaped pebble. I never see them, but she ALWAYS DOES. Early on, since Andrew’s passing, she has found hearts all around her, in objects that others might not otherwise see: in the clouds, in the sand, and among others, in pebbles along the roadside. She always collects them and brings them home with her, as they are a kiss from Andrew; a sweet reminder of his constant, everlasting love for her. Her hearts are among her blessings.
Maybe that’s all it takes; having a willing eagle eye, on high-alert to see the blessings at every turn in a sometimes rocky road.
If you are going through a difficult time in your life, I pray that your radar is on and your senses are heightened to see and experience the life-giving blessings along your way. They are there, waiting for you to find them.