I remember those days completely, clearly, soberly. I remember the depth of what I felt. I remember, also, some very specific moments… like Andy and Rebecca taking turns spending the night so Mark and I could finally get some sleep… Marte´ filling my thermos with mocha each morn… Cindy bringing butterflied shrimp rockefeller to the waiting room… my family, Doug and Jan, the Y’s and more, fervently lifting us up in prayer… Dr. Claudia, too, actually calling to talk to my incoherent, infant son, as he lay there motionless, hooked up to multiple meds, unable to breathe on his own most of that month of March. He was in critical care.
My situation was dire. It was absolutely unwanted and unexpected, and it was one of the most gut-wrenching, grueling experiences of my life.
Then there was the morning more began to congregate in the room next door. In and out, members of the medical team would go. The pace was swift. The mood was somber.
A fascinating thing about the ICU wing of the hospital… no matter what’s happening in one room, the staff still has to be painstakingly attentive to who’s in each of the other rooms. When the cardiac RN went from the adjacent room and then into ours, with the tracks of her tears still evident on her cheeks, I learned the heart transplant involving ten year old Tabitha next door was unsuccessful.
Friends, I have no desire today to write about my experience in my son’s initial year of life. It’s not that I mind sharing Josh’s story — we learn so incredibly much through the gut-wrenching and grueling; it’s just that today, there’s a more relevant insight to share. It’s the value and beauty of perspective.
Perspective means understanding how a piece of a puzzle fits with the whole — how one aspect, opinion, or experience relates to the entirety of all that’s going on. While my son’s plight was awful, for example, it was still not the plight of the precious adolescent next door.
With the current economic shutdown, we hear increased grumbling. We hear frustration. We hear weariness, sadness — exhaustion and anxiousness, too.
I get it. Our plights are hard.
Key events, experiences, long-planned moments and celebrations have been cancelled… weddings, funerals, vacations, etc.
Think of graduation. High school and college grads have been dreaming of that day since they waddled through the elementary doors. All the pomp and circumstance is simply gone.
How then is wise to react?
Allow me to quote Lydia Lee, a high school senior in northwest Iowa and future Iowa State Cyclone…
“I spent days wallowing in grief over the missed opportunities I worked so hard for. My sadness was warranted, but here’s the deal: Each one of us is at a crossroads, and we must choose the path to take. We can either continue down the road of self-pity, or we can rise up.”
That’s it. Our sadness (and grumbling and frustration and weariness, etc.) actually is warranted. It’s understandable given this unwanted and unexpected situation.
But Lydia goes one step further, which is the more relevant insight to share today. Hear it from her — not from me…
“We all seem to carry on with our lives without a care in the world until we are completely stopped in our tracks. Here’s a valuable lesson: Nothing in life is promised. And once this whole coronavirus craze is over, let’s not forget it. Make the most of every second. Know that no tomorrow is never guaranteed.
As challenging as this has been, let’s maintain perspective. Thousands of people around the world are sick and dying. Many have lost their jobs or are mourning the loss of loved ones. Though it doesn’t minimize your struggle, remember that the world is struggling alongside us. None of us is in this alone.”
Let’s maintain perspective. Our individual struggles are not minimized. Be sensitive. Simply be aware of the bigger situation, the entirety of all that’s going on… including, I soberly suggest, of the precious person next door.
For the record, Josh is scheduled to graduate this May. Not sure what that’s going to look like now — the school is still shut down, the ceremony is postponed, and people probably won’t be able to get here.
But 18 years after he lay motionless on that hospital bed, there is much to celebrate.
That’s the beauty of perspective.