In the Blink of an Eye
Today's Quote: "My house is burned down, but I can see the sky." Sally Reed, cancer survivor
Thirty five years ago this weekend, my father died. Killed when the Mack Truck Lear jet he was traveling on crashed into Lake Michigan, he died in the blink of an eye. There was no warning. His doctor had announced his perfect health a few days earlier. Yet he walked out our front door the Thursday morning of November 6 and never came back. I was twelve years old.
In the blink of an eye, pedestrians and bicyclists cross busy boulevards only to be hit by oncoming traffic. The blink of an eye separates consciousness from unconsciousness, wholeness from brokenness, and well-laid plans from disjointed futures. I was twenty when I was hit as a pedestrian and forty-five when I was hit as a cyclist.
In the blink of an eye, cars get sideswiped by speeding drivers running red lights. Cars mis-negotiate slick curves. Homes burn down. Pregnancies end in miscarriage. And loved ones hear proclamations of horrible diagnoses. Each one of these happened to people in my circle of love since August of this year.
In the blink of an eye, marriage vows are exchanged, babies enter the world, and toddlers take first steps. Athletes win gold medals and the Tour de France. Colleges accept graduating high school seniors, football teams win Homecoming, and actresses win leading roles.
None of us ever think about the time slot of a blink of an eye. Yet so much of life happens just there.
As Lance Armstrong writes in Every Second Counts: "Mortal illness, like most personal catastrophes, comes on suddenly. There's no great sense of foreboding, no premonition, you just wake up one morning and something's wrong in your lungs, or your liver, or your bones. But near-death cleared the decks, and what came after was a bright, sparkling awareness: time is limited, so I better wake up every morning fresh and know that I have just one chance to live this particular day right, and to string my days together into a life of action, and purpose."
These past thirteen days have certainly held their share of my own personal introspection, and of how I want to best string my days. In the blink of an eye, the doctor told me of my son's leukemia, as well as his chances for total healing. Armstrong hit it head-on: there is no warning to some of the bumps in life's journey. One minute you are sitting there minding your own business and the next minute you are smack dab in the emergency room watching someone drawing blood from your cancer-stricken child.
So just how do we deal with those events that arrive too suddenly, too quickly, and too unexpectedly? Horrible or wonderful: how do we make sense of the blink of an eye?
First of all, be spiritually grounded. Know thy maker. Have an intimate, love relationship with your Creator. For although you will undoubtedly question the events, cry for mercy, and pray for relief from suffering, it is more difficult to challenge the Creator when you realize that "you were fearfully and wonderfully made," and that "all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." I have had my share of questions these past thirteen days? but at some point I have also had the distinct confirmation that the clay does not question the potter.
Secondly, be grounded in your relationships. Your spouse, children, parents, neighbors, and friends were all gifted to you. They were placed into your life by a loving God whose master plan orchestrated their intervention. I have no doubt that the neighbors and friends who have embraced and enveloped our family have been put there precisely to help us out during this significant time in our family's history. And as I reflect back on the various people whose paths crossed mine at different points in the journey, I am well aware of their precise placement at that distinct point in time. Again, from Lance Armstrong: "What surviving cancer teaches you is the magnitude of your dependence on others, not just for self-definition, but for your mere existence. Cancer robs you of your independence; you're reliant on friends, family, and complete strangers, stoic doctors and nurses, and when you finally recover you're never casual about your place in the human chain."
Lastly, cast a wide net. Allow complete strangers to enter your world and meet you exactly where you are. During times of tragedy as well as during times of joy: allow others to indulge their goodwill with acts of hospitality and generosity. The circle of life goes round and round?.and it will be your turn one day to return all of those favors.
Experiences that happen in the blink of an eye are meant to be shared. Through your suffering or through your joy, others will want to enter into your life equation. Let them. For life that happens in the blink of an eye was never meant to be lived alone. If we can share these blinks with others, and if we can both learn a lesson as well as pass one along, then we have, indeed, done something quite extraordinary. So in addition to living your life wisely, live it exuberantly. Live it with celebration with others. Wake up with fresh and vibrant expectancy. And graciously accept the goodness, serendipity, and divine intervention that will come your way.
Carolina Fernandez earned an M. B. A. and worked at IBM and as a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch before coming home to work as a wife and mother of four. She totally re-invented herself along the way. Immersed in the domestic, performing and visual arts, she has undertaken projects ranging from renovating old houses to singing onstage in Carnegie Hall to painting in oils. Strong convictions were born about the role of the arts in child development; homeschooling for ten years provided fertile soil for devising creative parenting strategies. These are played out in ROCKET MOM! 7 Strategies To Blast You Into Brilliance. It is available on Amazon. com, in bookstores everywhere, or by calling 888-476-2493. She writes extensively for a variety of parenting resources and teaches other moms via parenting classes and radio and TV interviews.