Drizzling rain slows traffic as I weave my way 15 minutes to home. I’m not usually traveling this time of day, and any other day, I would have been school-girl giddy to leave the four walls of my office. But today is the day of telling, of branding…positive or negative.
Never has “positive” been so undesirable, and never has” negative” taken on such a hopeful and optimistic meaning.
The click of my heels up the walk strikes louder today. Sweet magnolia fragrance hugs the air just long enough for me to take notice. They’ve been in bloom for months, but just captured my attention in this space of time. The gardeners have already cut the grass, and the manicured symmetry is stunning in the sunlight.
Why is it our senses awaken when life threatens to hit hard? I try to live in this place of awareness each day, but even the smallest piece of life takes on new value in light of ceasing.
This news…these test results have been in limbo now for more than two months. Long enough for thoughts to settle and emotions to build beneath the surface. I am careful to not allow either to till my heart ground and plant what I may not be able to uproot.
I learned early in life how to protect my heart. Yet, wisdom and experience have shown me that even this protection can trap. Because to not feel is to not live.
And who really wants that epitaph scrolling across a marble stone?
Times like these are made for feeling. We allow ourselves to feel life expand even when it threatens to crush. We breathe in the deep fragrant notes and linger in the vibrant hues even when the dark shadows press into the light. And this slow awakening brings rest.
“And though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
A quick squeeze of the hand and a smile connects our hearts where words fall empty. We have been preparing for this moment. “Preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” he says when I ask how he is doing.
Isn’t that what we all do? And isn’t that what we all need….Hope? If we don’t allow ourselves to truly feel, then how can we expect to truly hope?
I don’t want to live this life numb. I don’t want to live this moment numb. If I can’t allow myself to feel its intensity, then how will I ever recognize a moment of sheer beauty over the horizon?
I am struck by the plush, cushioned chairs in the waiting room. Yeah, I’ve sat in them before, during a routine visit, when no counting of time was necessary. They are the first to be occupied by a slice of humanity on the same journey…as if this momentary safety and comfort will help absorb the blow.
Today I count them, and I wonder of the lives warmed within the leather arms. Everyone older, grayer, and I look at him sitting next to me. He doesn’t belong here. Barely 50, and already a part of the branding, 1 in 3 men. The odds are not good, but I remind myself that life is so much more than odds.
We find a spot in the back, and conversation flows as if this moment is no different from the rest. If we choose hope, then we must live in hope.
We’ve made the choice long before today. This hasn’t been our only bump in the road, and we have learned how to keep our eyes above the horizon.
At first it was just to survive, but now… it’s because we’ve survived.
This hope has carried us through the breaking and the mending more times than I can count.
And even when we thought the sun would never shine again, it did.
And when we questioned whether we could take another breath together, we could.
And when we wondered if this was all meant to be, it was.
It’s all part of living life together. We are stronger and wiser and grounded in together.
Because we never released our grip on hope, even when it was the only string connecting the two of us.
We hope because we know life really never stops. It changes, and it separates us for a time, but when eternity emerges, life still breathes life.
It still breathes beauty and fragrance and color. And there are no more odds, no more branding, no more positive or negative.
Just living the reward of our hoping.