The bigger picture

Thank you for all your prayers and good energy. This past week contained so many reminders of how you help me live this life and how amazingly blessed I get to be. For example, I could watch my son play tennis, attend a parenting class, chaperone a second grade field trip, help with homework, and host a large dinner party plus weekend guests. Each time, I felt happy and grateful to have the opportunity and the energy to do everything I could.

I am especially appreciative because, early last week, my friend Debbie Whitmore entered hospice, then died later in the week. She was married and together they have four boys (ages 11-19 or so). For each activity I did last week, I was acutely aware that Debbie would have given anything to be able to do any of that with her boys.

Last year at this time, four of us – all woman in our 40’s and 50’s, all with young children, all diagnosed with colorectal cancer, all who “should not” have had this disease, all seeing the same oncologist at Dana Farber – walked on this earth. Then Shira passed in February, Julie in August, and Debbie last week. Blessed to know these amazing women, I feel sad, sober, and reminded that each of us has a different path to walk. From the outside, each path may have looked like it had the same ending. But my up-close view of each one allowed me to see that they carried themselves through this in their own unique and fabulous way. I miss their physical presence though I still feel like they are with me.

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As we raise our two sons, strangers and people I barely know offer “helpful advice” on our parenting. As you might suspect, the advice can feel like criticism. I have to remember that these folks don’t know the bigger picture.

For example…

  • I’m told that the boys should sit still. They don’t know that they just spent three days with me in bed, sitting quietly so that I could rest undisturbed.
  • I’m told that I should be more on top of their behavior. They don’t know that we all sorely needed an outing but it was all I could do to get us all to the playground or museum.
  • I’m told that they should know when to be quiet, but these strangers don’t know that my boys get so excited to be able to finally talk with me that they can’t stop.

These well-meaning folks notice that something is different about our family and they try to fit us into their picture of what our sons and our family could or should be.

I realize now that they just don’t see the whole picture. If they were willing to believe that there are elements they cannot see for themselves, they might view the situation differently.

I feel this way about faith. If there are parts of everyday life where I don’t see the whole picture, there must be parts of our existence that are outside my tangible frame of reference. So I try to go on faith that I can ask for help and that everything is working out the way it is supposed to, even if it doesn’t fit the picture I can see right now.

Thinking of Shira, Julie and Debbie…yes, I’m next. Of course I would be the next of us four – we all will pass from this life. But that would feel depressing if you only look at the four of us. The picture is so much bigger, there is much I do not know, and we all have so much more in store than we can imagine.

Blessings and love always,
Marie

 

The magic and sparkle around us

On the last day of our vacation, I skied partway down the mountain alongside my snowboarding husband and son when we stopped for a moment to take a break. The weather felt relatively warm under cloudy, grey skies, though the trees alongside the trail were covered in ice.

Close-up of ice:

Ice on the trees - Mt. Snow

Trees along the trail:

Trailside trees at Mt. Snow

Suddenly, before our eyes, this entire row of trees sparkled as though filled with multi-color glitter, changing the entire view. We stood in awe of the transformed scene. Then, just as quickly as they appeared, the colors returned to grey. However, our perspective on those trees had shifted and we knew they held magic.

Later that evening, during our drive home, one of our sons noticed that if you looked out one side of the car, you could clearly see the stars, but not from the other side. On that side, the city lights, though not nearly as powerful as a star, were close enough to block out the starlight. We thought it ironic that the stars themselves were significantly more powerful than our earthly electric lights, but the electric lights drowned them out simply because they were closer.

Though we would have enjoyed seeing the stars, we didn’t need to see them to know that they were there.

I feel that way about the magical beings around us and the magic we each carry inside. Like the stars, that magic is stronger than I can comprehend, even though it can be hard to notice when daily life gets too loud. Like when I ski, I often move too quickly or focus elsewhere and miss seeing the sparkle. Still, I know that the magic and sparkle are there. And when I slow or stop the action and pay attention, I am giddy to actually see it.

I appreciate the magical beings around me, and I honor the magic you share with me. Thank you.

I dedicate this post to my dear, dear friend Shira. I feel honored have shared this path with you. Thank you for inviting me to stop the action and noise in my life, and experience the power of your love as you transition into the next life. Thank you for blessing my life with your light and magic. Good travels, my friend. Your love and magic remain with us.