Thursday, October 6, 2011

Crossroads and Anvils

A couple of weeks ago, I had two life-changing verdicts arrive within days of one another. I was expecting one outcome to create a big redirection of my career path and earnings forecast. I was anticipating a life-change. The second result was much more important. I needed that info to come back as more of the same, no change – a cancer-free life continuing.
On one Friday, the first decision came back opposite to my expectation. I still have a job - the same job. With this news, life goes on mostly unchanged during my nine to five. It's up to me to get back to the grind and polish that stone into a diamond (or at least something semi-precious).
The next Thursday, I met with my oncologist to review the results of my 6-month CAT scan and blood work. This is the sit-down that really mattered - facing life or death in a well-lit room.
Once again I have been granted more life. Another clean scan! No changes. Thank you God! This trend towards more of the same is much more welcome than the last. What happened work-wise was a distant second to good health news – a side of gravy to the finest meal ever. I am unbelievably relieved. An incredibly good life full of possibilities continues.
Until…just like that, life changes. Within 24 hours of my renewed lease, my sister-in-law Jennifer was injured in a devastating auto accident. She is going to be okay but faces a long and already painful recovery. She has multiple broken bones and fractures – foot, arm, hand, ribs, back and eye. We are counting on the amazing talents of her medical team and her own spirit of perseverance to get her all the way back. The outpouring of love, thoughts and prayers are much appreciated and will certainly help. Thankfully, she and the friend who was driving her car have been improving daily.
Jennifer's accident represents a third direction that one's life can take that confronted me that a week. A life at a major crossroads can (i) continue on largely unaffected, or (ii) take a turn for the better or worse (sometimes we may not know which until the end of that particular road). Or the crossroad (iii) comes suddenly on an otherwise bucolic country road, a broadside out of no where.
Our default perspective is that our own life's "trajectory" is traced out ahead of us – as if there is a path. That ruse is laid bare when life pulls the rug out from under us and the truth falls like an anvil. Just like Wile E. Coyote, we have a hard time incorporating the lesson (of how transitory life can be) into our lives. That trajectory is really just momentum, and the confluence of factors that maintain our day-to-day consistent. Pull out any particular gravitational force and a life can go careening through space. There may be a path, but you'd be a fool to think that you can see much of it in front of you.
Once past the stunned stupor of Jennifer, I am simultaneously questioning and appreciating God. "How could God let this happen?" and thank God that it wasn't worse.
There's no making sense of life, or getting too comfortable in it.
Never forget to say "I love you".
Don't take anything for granted.
Syrupy, I know, but very true too.

PS – My thoughts are very much with three exceptional fighters that cancer took this past week. Wendy - who threw the first ball out with me at the Somerset Patriots Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day in July. Mary Kay – who mothered all of the Flushing boys. God bless her. And Steve Jobs. Peace to you all and your families.