I spent nearly a month being tormented by hospital monitors rather than serenaded by chirping crickets. Can a lousy summer have a silver lining?
Summer is one of my favorite times of year. I imagine lazy days reading in the hammock, hours puttering in my garden, hikes in the mountains and nights in a tent gazing at the stars. This year I spent many nights looking at the sky from a hospital room, serenaded by the beeping of monitors rather than the chirping of crickets. Over the past 2 months my partner has had 4 major abdominal surgeries and lost over 30 pounds. With each procedure, anticipation of summer's joy slowly devolved into feelings of helplessness, frustration, anger and grief as medical procedures led to one complication after another. John Lennon's quote, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans" has long been a favorite of mine. As the summer dwindled, the quote became a poignant reminder that I had been making other plans rather than being fully present.
"I had been making other plans rather than being fully present." In other words, part of my sadness and frustration stemmed from my desire to be somewhere else, doing something else, rather than rolling up my sleeves and accepting my caregiver role. While that in and of itself isn't "bad", it was preventing me from appreciating the gifts right in front of my eyes; the little health gains and days when my partner emerged from his anesthesia-induced brain fog and returned to his very precocious and thoughtful self. I was missing the moments of joy because I was looking in the wrong place. Paying attention to where we are and realizing that we've wandered off, or are attached to an ideal that is causing suffering, is a fundamental part of being mindful, and a lesson that I needed to be reminded of. My partner and I still have a long way to go on his health journey, but I now face the present with a renewed sense of hope, and a commitment to be here now rather than being somewhere else.