Tuesday, June 12, 2012
It is unforgettable. You are 43 years old. Outside is the cold and dark of January. Inside, in a small examining room you and your wife need answers. You look at the man you wish could give them. "How long have I got before incapacitation?" Your doctor has been expecting this question, but is unable to suppress a momentary look of... Pain? Irritation? He attempts an evasion " I'm always wrong" he says, offering a show of weakness as the ransom for release from our implacable need. Merciless, we press. "Ten, maybe 15 years" he finally says. A quick mental calculation immediately yields a goal. You want to see your son graduate from college in ten years. That time seems impossibly distant. The path is steep and cut with streams that threaten to wash it from beneath your feet. You shoulder your pills, your fears, your responsibilities and your hopes, strike up a dirge and begin the climb. To your great surprise, and with the help of many hands, that day arrives in brilliant sunlight. So you will celebrate. You will celebrate your beautiful son who has graduated with honors in a demanding field. You will celebrate your stalwart partner of over thirty years. You will celebrate the generosity of family members who come to be with you in this moment of reprieve from the inevitability of loss. You will celebrate the vision and discipline of those that worked to make the path smoother and thank them for their passion and compassion. You will celebrate your companions that walk the path, stumbling over roots, cursing as they trip and fall on the rocks, grunting as they rise unsteadily to their feet, stoically moving forward. It is so easy to forget what you are doing or where you are going when exhaustion sets in and gravity seems tripled. It is so easy to lose your way or your hope as sweat stings your eyes and the insects sting your flesh. Chance set you on this road, but chance did not bring you these many miles. So you mark and celebrate this moment with gratitude and gusto. And you will dare to celebrate the next ten years.