It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and I am flying over what looks like a dry moonscape from the bird’s-eye view of the plane. Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be alive and how one really relishes every day one has.
Recently a close friend of mine, upon returning home from Haiti feeling extremely ill, went to the emergency room. While there the doctors identified a 9cm tumor in her abdomen. What followed was a string of doctor’s appointments, a biopsy, and then the worst part- waiting for the results. (A mass this size has something like a 75% chance of being cancerous, 50% of which is likely to be stage three of a serious form of cancer).
As I sat with her at a local coffee shop, she read me e-mails from friends and strangers. People sent flowers and Thai food. Friends of friends sent her stories about their battles with cancer, their struggles through dark places in their lives and how their faith and their families carried them through. We talked about how lucky we are to be alive. How lucky she was to get sick enough to go into the hospital, or the tumor could have gone unnoticed. We talked about Jesus. She reflected on how blessed she was and how so many people suffer. We browsed random websites, and read a blog about a couple who had quadruplets – Anything to keep her mind off her cell phone.
By Tuesday night the doctor had called. The tumor was benign. Later that week some friends met for dinner to celebrate the news. We listening to her talk about how much she loves Jesus and how grateful she was for this miracle that so many others have not been granted. Over dinner six women reflected on the gift of health and of the days ahead. We recounted stories of loved ones who had battled cancer- some who had won and others who had left this world for a better one. Although all of us are under thirty, good health is not a given. Nothing in life is a given. We do not know what tomorrow will bring.
You must know that this friend already lives life with a vibrant enthusiasm. She travels around the world to tell the stories of children who face poverty, abuse, hunger, slavery, homelessness and war. She makes the world a better place whether she is in the Congo or sitting with me at Tryst. I guess the question posed to all of us by this experience is, are we living life to the full? Are we the kind of people who go to bed each night content with how we spent our time- what we learned, how we treated others, who we invested in. If all we had were these 26 years, would they have been all we wanted them to be? I am not sure.
I am lucky to have good health, a caring family and a community that encourages me to stay centered while still looking to the stars. I have a roof over my head and resources to pursue an education. I am very blessed, yet how content am I?
I believe that life should be more than monetary success, the pursuit of academic accolades or even being a supportive and loving family member. So, I am going to spend some time processing (and maybe writing) about what it means to me to live life to the full.
I want to be more than grateful for the things in my life. I want to move beyond my blessings to live a life that is truly transformational – A life where I am confident that I am living each year given to me to the fullest.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.