First, grab a tissue, then watch this:
I have a grand nephew who at barely age 2 maneuvered his own journey with cancer. Gratefully, he is still here, not without remaining challenges as a result of all his chemo and radiation. But, we get to experience a 14 year old now maneuvering puberty instead of cancer.
Cancer has taught us to take nothing for granted. We know life is fragile and uncertain, so we savor every day with him with a deepened awareness of the sweetness of every moment, not knowing when and if cancer will knock at his door again.
And now with a wave of ‘survivor’s guilt,’ only days ago came news full of heartache. Connor lost a friend we connected with when they both were in treatment together.
Connor’s journey was far from easy, but we can still hug him every day. Not so for Ian.
From the time Ian was a toddler, relapse after relapse. High after low, after high, after low. Treatment after treatment. Finally Ian’s assignment here was complete. He more than earned his wings and was set free at age 12 after a passionate fight, while his parents and siblings are left to attempt to shore up the hole left.
They have courageously lived as fully as possible on fumes in the ‘in-between.’ Hopefully, eventually they will find the way to salvage the good times and blessings hidden in the pain and grief. But, first they will feel their loss and exhaustion as they feel the emptiness and attempt to reconnect as a family, missing Ian.
Wedged and disguised in all of the heartache I cling to the belief that blessings are there, waiting to become the persistent remembered fragrance of a treasured rose.
How does this make sense?
All I know is that I am more patient and kind because of my part in the journey with Connor. Many people have felt the joy that comes with the opportunity to ignite their own compassion and generosity. We all were invited to access a depth of love we never realized was possible. Complete strangers came forward for both of these boys, not needing to be known, including the bone marrow donor who made Connor’s current adventure through puberty possible.
Damn, this 3rd dimension paradox, but despite all of this, I am certain that love is the answer to every question. Like a caterpillar, pain and heartache transform to love and wisdom… eventually, even if it takes another life-time or two.
Now watch this:
Here is another moment that opens the floodgates of emotion. Vulnerability worn on this dad’s shirt-sleeve. Immense joy and immense sadness felt in the same blessed moment. A daughter held in her dad’s heart as a baby he is responsible for, and in that transitional instant recognized as a woman who now has another man in her life to love.
Letting go takes courage, whether initiated by a sweet or bitter moment. The portal to transition is the same.
These are powerful examples of touching and seemingly opposite situations that somehow both access the very same moment of ‘in-between’ that allows us to see beyond the paradox of joy and sadness, loss and life, relief and anguish, love and letting go, at least for an instant before we grab our armor again and step back into the paradox, stronger for the adventure into the uncontrollable.
What is unique about this ‘in-between’ moment, that heart opening moment, that keepsake moment where bitter and sweet become bittersweet?
Vulnerability? Courage? Love?
However we attempt to define it, it finds it’s way past our illusion of control in one instant when our heart collapses it’s defensiveness and can do nothing more than open and feel love. Tears of joy and sadness both look the same. Both are salty. Both are a release. Both are a surrender to what is.
I tend to agree with Anne Lamott when she says:
“The first and truest thing is that all truth is a paradox. Life is both a precious, unfathomably beautiful gift, and it’s impossible here, on the incarnational side of things. It’s been a very bad match for those of us who were born extremely sensitive. It’s so hard and weird that we sometimes wonder if we’re being punked. It’s filled simultaneously with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, desperate poverty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together. I don’t think it’s an ideal system.”
Somehow I know the portal between our third dimensional limitations and the opening to unconditional love and meaning that allows this hard to describe moment to somehow make sense beyond words lies in those in-between moments when we find ourselves in the worm-hole, crying out for balance while feeling overtaken and ungrounded. We surrender, sometimes only after a long fight while our emotions steers the boat.
I don’t fully grasp why our deepest insights, lessons, love and meaning come most often through our darkest, challenging, most unflattering and bittersweet times, but they do. This seems to be one of the rules of the game of life.
The risk for loving deeply amidst this reality is that we invite an equal degree of potential pain with a loss. Is it worth it?
“Life is both a precious, unfathomably beautiful gift, and it’s impossible here, on the incarnational side of things.”
Most of the time I believe maneuvering the paradox is worth it in order to experience ‘love with skin on,’ while at times my heart still longs to access again the timeless place of unconditional love I experienced with my near-death experience at 17, free from all these human gymnastics.
I am here to be a bridge-person. I recognize the portal to unconditional love that shows up at those ‘in-between’ and often messy moments, those moments when time and space disappear even in this human reality, even if only for an instant.
In the big human picture time is fleeting and precious, and unexplainable. The choice is always ours about what we do with every 1440 minutes we have in a day. Life offers an ongoing unpredictable opportunity to live and love fully, rather than using our precious energy avoiding pain.
Will we play it safe, or live authentically and with curiosity?
Will we insist on traveling armored and alone?
What will we choose?
I am always curious about how we each find the way to make every moments a keepsake moment, even the messy ones.
How about you? Care to join me?
Send me your comments at: https://rhondahull.com/contact/.