Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In An Instant

(Note: Originally published in April, 2007)

It is not over years, but in an instant that everything changes.

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate, John Edwards, and a powerful figure of her own accord, has had a reoccurrence of breast cancer, metastasizing in her bones. One minute, she's "cancer-free," the next moment, she is facing a decision that could be of historic proportions for our country.

So much happens in one tick of a clock.

Tony Snow, White House press spokesman, enters the hospital for a "routine" procedure to remove a growth from his abdomen. It is a safe bet to assume that day turned out to be anything but "routine" for the Snow family.

Two political figures, with widely disparate views, are at once united in a battle against a common enemy; a poignant reminder that more binds us than drives us apart. It matters not what one owns, or the power one wields, mortality is unimpressed by stature.

It goes without saying that not only the rich and powerful, or those with access to our national spotlight must face their moments. Each of us, is - or will be - confronted with "instants" that upend everything we know. (I pray for the courage of Ms. Edwards when mine comes.)

These national events, coupled with cheerless news from some friends, have brought to the surface emotions I prefer to avoid, yet apparently, cannot. I hold little fear of heart attack or stroke. I do (most of) what I can to avoid their cold grasp: I eat well; engage in moderate, regular, exercise; and have years (and years) of therapy to cope with the psychological and emotional ravages that might trigger such events.

Cancer, however, is a far different story. The very word slams a stake of terror through my heart.

My mother was a victim of that wretched, abominable, scourge; dragging her from diagnosis to death in 18 blindingly short days - an instant. It was an horrific, dreadful period where we helplessly watched her decline from what we thought was healthy, vibrant, and active; to her demise. Seven years hence, it remains a gaping tear in the fabric of my life.

Yet, although I still bitterly miss her, and feel deeply for others facing such challenges, I believe with utter certainty that it is a travesty to park myself idly and fearfully by the side of life's road, waiting for whatever fate shall bring. Death may be natural, but avoiding Life is sinful.

Until that moment when I have no options, I still retain some control. In any fragment of time - including this very second - I must therefore remind myself to inhale deeply the beauty of all that surrounds me; smile more often at the pleasures I possess; and honor those who no longer have those options by infusing myself, totally, and completely with the Spirit of Health and Wellbeing that I still possess in THIS instant.

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