I just recently finished reading the book The End of Your Life Bookclub by Will Schwalbe. If you haven’t read the book I strongly recommend it. It was touching, poignant, and inspiring. It was a bonus that it was about a love of reading and the love between a mother and son. The book is a memoir of sorts about Will’s relationship with his mother Mary Anne as she battles pancreatic cancer. The book has forced me to look more closely at how I gauge difficult situations. Throughout Mary Anne’s battle she never said that she was in pain. Mostly, she said she was uncomfortable. She felt that there were far more painful things in life than cancer, and who was she to be complaining when for most of her life she had been blessed with health, good fortune, and the love of family. Pain it would seem, is all about perspective.
This past Friday I had the pleasure of seeing this guy:
with this guy:
Ben Harper is my husband’s all-time favorite singer and while he has seen him perform live many times we have never seen him together. While these tickets were an expensive we weren’t anticipating it seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity to see him do an acoustic set in a small venue to benefit a worthy cause, New Light India. The concert was incredible, but unfortunately while we were walking to the venue I got something in my eye and it wouldn’t come out. We made a quick trip to the pharmacy where Honey poured saline in my eye to no avail. That sucker was in there good. I spent the whole concert looking through one eye, or with eyes closed, but I was determined to not let it interfere with our night. The next morning my eye still felt funny. It didn’t hurt (pain is relative) but it was extremely uncomfortable. After a trip to the ED I found out that there was no longer anything in my eye but whatever was in there had irritated it quite a bit and I would need a few days of eye ointment before it felt better. I spent the day being cranky about it but whenever someone asked me if it hurt I said no, because it really didn’t. Before I read the book I probably would’ve been quite the Complainy Complainerson.
I had a similar experience after I finished the half marathon. [side bar: Yes, as Sharlene said I’ve become one of those people who needs to talk about running all the time now. Guess what? When something as profound as pushing yourself past your limits to achieve a goal you previously thought was insurmountable happens you want to talk about it. A lot. Moving on] People kept asking me if I hurt after the half and my response was that I didn’t hurt anymore than you’d expect someone to after running 13 miles in one go. I actually appreciated the hurt a bit more because it meant I did something with my body that other people can’t do. There was no pain in that experience, relatively speaking.
This week something bad happened to one of my friends. It was pretty bad and left me quite upset. It also made me want dispatch all my energies into action to do something to make it better (if only). Physical pain is nothing in comparison to emotional pain. I am reminded that even though this upsets me, it’s not happening to me. For as much as this news was difficult, I still found myself trying to focus on the positive and continuing to be a support to those around me. This is who I am after all. Coincidentally, focusing on supporting other people helps to lessen the pain.
Mary Anne Schwalbe’s lesson for me is that even in moments of pain-physical or emotional-there is still hope and grace. You just have to look for it.