Paying Attention To Your Senses
If you were told that you only had a short period of time to live how would you handle it? If you were living with that family member or in their life daily what would you do? How would you act? It would be completely understandable to fall apart and lash out at the world. I saw this scenario this weekend. This weekend I drove to Roanoke with my daughter and dad to visit a young family member who has been given a limited number of days to live. I did not know what to expect when I got to the Star City and I was very anxious. I am a person of many words. I do not always say the right thing and I sometimes speak out of turn but I am rarely without thought. Two weeks before going to Roanoke this family member called me while I was at work to talk. It was the first time I had spoken to him since I was privy to his cruel sentence. I was without words. I had no clue what to tell him but quite frankly I don’t think he called me to get sage advice. He just wanted to talk. This was one of my first lessons. I cannot tell you what is in his mind but I can tell you that in the conversations I have had with loved cousin that in his last days he is not concerned with himself. He is concerned with everyone else. He is looking down the barrel of it and he wants to know how I am doing?
The trip to Roanoke seemed doomed from the beginning. After a five-hour trip to Roanoke I want to honor my daughters wish to see the star that over looks the city before visiting my beloved cousin. My wife and I had taken her there last year and she remembered it. I could appreciate that because that star is a big part of my childhood memories. I loved that star as a kid and still do. It is a cheesy hunk of neon and light on top of a big ass mountain but it represents memories and family to me. We stopped at McDonald’s to catch a break from the drive before driving up Mill Mountain. My daughter began to get sick and vomited. Five hours from home with a baby with a stomach bug. I told my cousin’s family about my daughters illness and they still opened up their home with wide arms. When I walked in his living room their was part of me that wanted to turn around and walk back out the door. It was hard to see him in the state I saw him. I had my excuse in my pocket, a sick daughter. I could have left. I chose to sit down and help him take his medicine. My daughter laid behind me watching cartoons and my dad sat across the room, clearly uncomfortable, but supportive of my cousin and I. He was in and out but so very kind. He seemed to feel bad he could not be the host he wanted to be. He was in and out of his drug induced haze and I spoke mostly to his in-laws and daughter. She was amazing. She was strong beyond her years. She was inspiring. She only wanted to support her father. She was blunt, honest, and funny. She was obviously hurting but she knew something that some people twice her age never learn. She paid attention to her senses and was playing the supportive role. There is time to cry later but today she has a role to play. I was honored to spend time with her. My daughter got ill again at my cousins so we left after a couple of hours. We still had plans to eat with my cousin’s family on my side, his mother and sister.
My aunt and cousin are amazing and they are dealing with this with such dignity. I can only imagine the conversation my dad and his sister, my aunt had. My cousin is one of the strongest women I may ever know. This event has brought out the strength in these people, my family. No one has a bad or distressed word. I’m sure they are in their heads but they know now is not the time. I listen my sick cousins sister and I want to take her pain away but to be honest I could not handle the situation better than her so in a sick way she has the right job at this time. I love them all so much.
Life makes little sense sometimes but life gives you what you need. When you are having dark days there often is someone in your corner even if you don’t know it. If you pay attention to your senses you can feel the energy and support of love in your life. It is easy to give in to life’s trials. I often want to give in when I am challenged in life but then I witness the amazing show of strength I saw this weekend and I am reminded that you better enjoy every breath and every person. I asked my dad about why the family fought so much and he had a great response. He said they fight but they love each other. That was their way to get along. It made me realize that everybody finds their way when they have too.
I am so very blessed. I have the most amazing wife and incredible daughter. I hope they never have this challenge but I know if it happened they would figure it out. Another, less clean way to express my thoughts I paraphrase from Adam Ferrera…”Fight if you must, screw when you can, but always love each other”.
Bubba, Michelle, Missy, Gail, and David I love you guys to pieces.