About a week ago, I awoke suffering from tremendous vertigo, blurred vision in one eye, tremors, and a stiff neck with pain in the jaw. Some might say, “Hell of a night Mr. Buddha.” Truthfully, this is just a part of the disease I must endure to the end.
Waiting for the usual plethora of tests, I’ve been asked several times about how I’m doing. When queried in such a manner, I internally reflect upon Quincy Adams last letter and quote, The Buddhist “… is well, but the house in which he lives at the present time is becoming dilapidated.”
I know the real battle is the not the disease, it’s within the mind. As CNN anchor Zain Verjee described her battle psoriasis, “My mind is living a separate life from the body beneath it.” Many sitting in the impractical and uncomfortable hospital lounge chairs understand the ocean of pain and fear crushes far worse than the disease. That fear slaughters and drives many from their faith. Likewise those clutching rosaries, religious revivals have swept through thousands of new converts. Yet death’s angel culls both faithful and unfaithful equally.
All of us will stumble upon someone dying. Technically speaking, life itself is both sexually transmitted and terminal. But as we meet those transferring from this life to another, it’s important to remember: this is not about you. It’s about the person with the illness. If you are a friend you will need to get over your discomfort or get out of the way. Those dying really don’t want to console their visitors. For those suffering, romantic conceptions of the battle and gallant heroes riding to save day rarely come. No one visiting someone’s personal battlefield should ever regard life in quite the same fashion as before. Doing otherwise catapults one to being worse than the enemy.
If I can be so bold as to speak for others, being a compassionate and caring friend does not require personal experience identical to what I am living. Don’t disappear. Sure I represent your fear, but I also represent God’s love. Check in with me. Remind me that I’ve not been forgotten. Remind me that I’m your friend.
I will close with an excerpt from When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner:
“Life is not fair. The wrong people get sick and the wrong people get robbed and the wrong people get killed in wars and in accidents. Some people see life’s unfairness and decide, ‘There is no God; the world is noting but chaos.’ Others see the same unfairness and ask themselves, ‘Where do I get my sense of what is fair and what is unfair? Where do I get my sense of outrage and indignation, my instinctive response of sympathy when I read in the paper about a total stranger who has been hurt by life? Don’t I get these things from God? Doesn’t He plant in me a little bit of His own divine outrage at injustice and oppression, just as He did for the prophets of the Bible? Isn’t my feeling of compassion for the afflicted just a reflection of the compassion He feels when He sees the suffering of His creatures?’ Our responding to life’s unfairness with sympathy and with righteous indignation, God’s compassion and God’s anger working through us, may be the surest proof of all of God’s reality.”
As Quincy Adams wrote, “Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it; its roof is pretty well worn out. Its walls are much shattered, and it trembles with every wind.”
But I my friends … I am having a great day.