This I Believe

lydia - richmond, Massachusetts
Entered on October 3, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

While I don’t believe in a cosmic force that micromanages mine or anyone else’s life, serendipity has me a little puzzled. Do some things happen for a reason? I just don’t know.

I believe we’ve all been given opportunities for change that we often don’t see or hear or perhaps we choose to ignore. In my brief exploration of this idea I’ve found that those opportunities with which I have been personally provided, often come in the form of some ludicrous incident which I can later turn into a great story for the entertainment of my friends.

I believe God has an ironic sense of humor. Not one of those gentle senses but more like that sick sense of humor that you share only with your closest friends. This is the sarcasm that jolts you back to reality when you realize it has just a little too much truth in it to be all that funny. One of the best therapists I’ve ever had possessed that same quality and could tear me from the steely grips of denial with one well placed satirical observation. God on the other hand, has never been that upfront. So, while I am willing to entertain the idea that I may have developed selective hearing, truth be known I just don’t think God is as effective a communicator as she was.

While in my late twenties, I was diagnosed with an indolent form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My particular disease is most commonly found in older men. I guess this is where the humor kicks in, I mean c’mon… older men? So unless I was willing to talk about my grandchildren or my prostate I wasn’t getting a whole lot from support group meetings. Not only that but it turns out that this particular cancer is incurable, the irony being it is so slow growing that I’ve had plenty of time to come to terms with that fact…whether I wanted to or not.

By the end of eighteen months I took what was left of my school loans and headed to England. Nothing drastic, just a short vacation. I was battle worn and had decided to forego further treatment. This wasn’t an educated decision. I was trying to entertain the idea that maybe I could just deny that this was happening. Furthermore, I wasn’t buying all that stuff about mourning my losses or what living with a life threatening illness could teach me.

My friend and I took a bus trip with about forty other people. Within a week we were getting frustrated with driving around and spending too much time with some of the more eccentric personalities who had come along for the ride. Our boredom ended abruptly when our tour guide was killed…by the bus. That was when it hit me. Running away was a miserable failure, my denial was not that powerful. I am not arrogant enough to believe that this man was killed because I am too thick headed to realize that whether you’re healthy or not, life is really, really short. But was I present at what was obviously a far more poignant moment for him, because I needed to learn something?

Although I still think it sounds fairly trite, whether or not there is a reason for my illness, it has taught me a few things. I’m learning to be in the moment in order to make better decisions about the future. I believe there are many people who despite their lack of understanding as to why they are present at specific times, could benefit from recognizing that how they react in those moments could change lives. I continue to attract somewhat crazy situations and I’ve decided that whether I know why they happen is not the point, but rather to recognize that maybe I’m supposed to understand something. I listen because I don’t want to miss opportunities and denial is a luxury I may not have. Besides, who am I to turn a deaf ear to the sarcasm of the universe?