Lesson Learned

Walking down memory lane today and I was struck by how far I have come and how much I owe to life experiences and relationships. Today, though, I want to write about one lesson in particular that I have learned through many experiences but very poignantly through the experience of sickness and death - of my loved ones.

My first brush with illness came at birth. My sister - born 5 years before me - suffered from epileptic seizures and they happened everyday. This experience was definitely more severe for my parents and my brother, but it was an experience that molded me more than most other childhood experiences did. I saw her suffer for the first 8 years of my life - day in and day out - till eventually her body could not take the assault of the seizures and gave in. She died at 13.

The next experience was with cancer - it took my hero away from me. Dad suffered, thankfully for a very short period of time and was gone. I was 18.

The next was the most recent event, when my husband was diagnosed with cancer and has since recovered.

The lesson is a very profound one - all the information and all the advice that may be available is good to have but it is imperative to know that the experience of each one of us as we go through watching our loved ones suffer is unique. No one can foresee the future that is ahead - not the person suffering, not the doctors, not all the loved ones. Yet, there is one thing that each one of us does have and that is the power to make a difference in the moment. We can choose to worry, grieve, wallow, smile, laugh, be positive, be strong, be sad, be prayerful or resourceful - the choice is ours. The mind is our tool through which we take control of the moment and live it by design. We have to accept that all the knowledge we have cannot foretell our future, we may even accept that destiny has already designed what the future will be, but we cannot give in to worry. Worry is our greatest enemy when we are faced with caring for or even simply watching our loved one suffer. Worry drains us and it leaves us lacking. Worry comes from fear. Each of us has a different set of fears and we have to learn to overcome our basket of fears. Our ally in all this is a stable mind and we must at all times care for that stability of mind. Never let it waiver even during the best of times. Staying focused, positive and recognizing ones own potential to overcome every odd ensures that we are at our best at all times. Never give in to anger, hatred, envy or pride for they take our mind away from the moment. Handle these emotions with care for they are part of our human psyche. We need to recognize them and use them to fire up our engines to bring out the best in us - never the worst.

Death and disease are part of life and we all have to face it, and the lessons they teach us can be carried through into many life experiences, both good and bad. My experience with illness and death has made me recognize myself and be more compassionate, more caring towards others and definitely more appreciative of life. Most of all it has taught me to care for my mind and be meditative at all times. 

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