Starting a New Chapter
It’s been a rough time. I doubt he’ll ever be able to travel around the globe again, but he is alive. He’s in the ICU recovering from open heart surgery, being given help breathing, and undergoing dialysis. It’s rough. Really rough. Best case scenario, he’ll be in ICU for weeks more. (He’s been in the hospital since before Christmas.)
When my Dad’s initial diagnosis was discovered and things looked horrible (as they always do when bad news like this is uncovered), I received some sage counsel my friend Arthur, an ordained rabbi.
I’m sharing his words with you, because I’ve found that they serve as good advice for anyone just learning of horrible, unsettling, life-changing news.
(Obviously, I hope you don’t need this advise any time soon.)
Here’s a paraphrase of what Arthur told me last September:
Brian, look, you’re just at the beginning. The journey has just started. This new experience of your dad and his health, and what’s gonna happen – you don’t know where it will lead you. You have no idea how it’s going to change your life, his life, your sisters, your mothers. Will it bring everyone together? Tear them apart? You have no idea.
Think of it as a new chapter in your life.
The previous chapter just ended. Maybe it concluded more abruptly than you would have liked it to, but it ended nonetheless.
You’ve just started a new chapter, and at this point, you know nothing about it.
You don’t know how long it will be.
It could be as long as the last chapter, or it might be the shortest chapter you’ve ever read.
But right now, you’re on the first few pages, and you don’t know what will happen.
You don’t know the tone – it might be tragic, it might be poignant, it might be heart-splitting, and it might be really funny at times.
You know the characters, but not what they’ll do. You won’t know the events until they unfold.
Surely you don’t expect yourself to predict what will happen two chapters ahead in an actual book, right? Of course not! How can you expect yourself to know what’s in store for you in this new chapter of your life?
How true, how true.
Last September, I wanted to know how much time my dad has remaining. Now a year in, I still want to know how long this new “chapter” will be. I want to know so much that I just can’t know. The tone, I’ve learned has gone from despair to hopeful, back and forth, and all places in the middle. But, more than anything, I desperately want to know and understand what will happen.
That’s not how life works.
None of us knows what the future will bring.
What I do know is that I love my dad so much. He is a hero of mine. I just love him. Writing these words brings tears to my eyes.
Spiritual-religious advice: Don’t live a few pages ahead. Be where you are now. (And, take time to appreciate your loved ones.)
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