When I call my friend on her birthday and ask her how it feels to be her new age, she answers, “It’s better than the alternative.” Yes, we’ve all heard Vivian Greene’s words: “Life’s not about waiting for the storms to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Well, we’d better start getting our dancing shoes on.
At the risk of my columns sounding more and more like obituaries, God help us, I have a good friend in a hostel who’s dying from a rare disease and another close friend who has just been re-diagnosed with cancer in two places.
I run a lashon hara mishmeret, and every month I give names of people for whom to pray to about 80 women. It’s sobering to think of how many people out there are hoping to make it through the month (and I don’t mean financially). It gives one pause and perspective regarding the daily trials and tribulations (serious or petty ones) we experience. This is so even if we’re talking about difficult challenges; after all, nothing is more serious than something that’s life threatening.
It seems that when we’re not worried about dying, we tend to also not worry about living. While we exist and go through the motions of life, we don’t relish our lives the way we should. We’re inclined to spend a lot of energy agonizing over things that, in the big picture, are not that big.
Life’s daily crises can wear you down. And it’s when you’re worn down that you can become negative, losing sight of all of life’s beautiful things – like waking up at home in your bed, not one in the hospital.
I’m too young to be losing my friends but too old to be taking any day – or any moment – for granted. My dear and special friend in the hostel said to me when she was struck with the disease that the important thing is to survive. She’s right because life is our greatest asset.
With surviving must come the realization that it’s vital to feel and express gratitude, all the while having a positive outlook on life because we don’t know when our life is about to end. When you think that you may not have much time left, every day becomes more precious. But we should feel that regardless of the particulars of any day’s situation, every day is precious. My dying friend is grateful for the precious moments spent with visitors and for all they and the hospital staff do for her.
And my friend with cancer has, Baruch Hashem, married off four children since she was first diagnosed. She’s grateful for that.
May the Healer of the universe grant her many more years to enjoy more weddings and the births of grandchildren. And may we all have the wisdom to treasure every day, every moment, and every relationship. May we learn to dance during life’s storms, for if you look through the mist of the rain, even in the most tempestuous storms, you can clearly see rainbows. And they’re breathtakingly beautiful!
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