Photo Cred: James Elledge
How (seriously- HOW?!) do we maintain perspective throughout our lives?
When my mom was dying, I stopped doing a lot of things that just no longer seemed important. I stopped reading magazines and started reading more books. I stopped blogging and started journaling. I stopped worrying about my body so much, because I was seeing first hand what happens to our bodies when they no longer work for us. I stopped complaining about things that just.didn’t.matter.
And then time went by and I lost a lot of the perspective that watching someone die can bring.
The two beautiful girls pictured above belong to my good friends, James and Crystal. Their dad created the hashtag #shutupstroke about two weeks ago, when Crystal suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. She underwent brain surgery last week. Today, she’s back at home.
When I saw Crystal in the ER the day this part of her story began, she had just received the news of what had happened to her. She had just learned that the symptoms she had shared with me in the school car line the day before were more than “a cold coming on,” or “random numbness in her face and a couple of her fingers.” It wasn’t “like vertigo.” It was much more life-changing and perspective changing. James showed me a picture he snapped that day in the ambulance as Crystal was transferred to a bigger hospital. She’s beautiful as always, but it’s kind of terrible. She looks scared. She told me all she was thinking about was, “Am I about to die?”
The night after Crystal’s surgery I was in a really foul mood. It had been a long week and I was so sick of being around my kids. They had been whiny and disrespectful and I was just “done.” We had gone out to dinner and then to a playground and it had been fun but I was still sulking. I locked myself in my closet just to get a few moments alone. I laid on the floor of my closet feeling so sorry for myself. And then I thought of Crystal. She was lying in a bed in the ICU, probably wishing more than anything that she was at home, being overwhelmed by and annoyed with her girls. I imagined that she would have done anything to feel and experience something as normal as being sick of her kids.
And my perspective changed.
Those children, whom I was viewing as pesky annoyances at the time, are also three of the biggest blessings of my life.
Of course, I’ve already had moments since then where I’ve forgotten that lesson. The perspective doesn’t last. Does it have to hit even closer to home? Does it have to be me who’s facing death?
How to make that perspective last?