Thursday, December 11, 2014


I have so many feelings and so much to say and yet the thought of capturing it all on here feels very overwhelming.

My first thought is why are so many bad things happening to such good people? Is it because we’re getting older so we’re more aware of it? Or is there some weird shift in the universe? Whatever it is, I hate it. I hate that my friend’s best friend is fighting for her life right now with a rare blood disorder and subsequent kidney failure—a bubbly 30-something who, to me, has always epitomized “full of life and full of joy.” She wasn’t feeling well around Halloween, and now—less than two months later—she’s in the ICU, on dialysis, in stable but critical condition, waiting for a kidney transplant.

Aaron’s aunt, who is only 53, is also really ill. On Thanksgiving we got a call that she was in the ICU at Mayo. Apparently she got an infection that sent her lupus diagnosis into overdrive. She was in a medically induced coma for a few days and is just now awake (but still incoherent). I don’t know if the infection—which had spread to her brain—has affected her cognitive abilities. She’s a gifted pianist and a really sweet person (even though we’ve had our political differences) and devoted mother of five. She celebrated her 30th wedding anniversary in the hospital, on one of the days they didn’t know if she’d pull through. Aaron’s uncle, who is normally a calm, quiet man, was a mess.  At one point, when a bunch of medical personnel went racing into her room (leaving him outside) he thought he had lost her. She's still at Mayo, no longer fighting for her life, but still incredibly sick.

My boss/friend's mom died unexpectedly a few weeks ago. Her mom had been visiting family down south, fell asleep, and never woke up. They suspect she had a heart attack. "I never thought I'd be planning my mom's funeral in 2014," Sara said. "I thought she'd be around for at least another 20 years." Sara is only 38 and has experienced the heartbreak of losing both parents and a beloved mother-in-law, and her father-in-law is fighting his own battle with cancer. 

And then there are the stories in the news … young people courageously battling brain cancer, teenagers dying of flu-like symptoms, bullying-related suicide. Sometimes it's enough to make your heart feel like it's going to shatter. And you look at your OWN family and your mind plays out morbid worst-case scenarios and you can't even process the horror. You wonder how people pick up the pieces and move on. How can you NOT be changed after going through such an intense loss?  

I guess the bright side (I always, always, always try to find a bright side and I hope I never lose this part of my personality) is that it puts EVERYTHING in perspective and makes you hug your loved ones a little bit harder. That thing you were worried about at breakfast? Probably not that big a deal. We're breathing, we're healthy, we're here together. And instead of giving in to road rage or glares or exasperated sighs when a stranger does something rude or inconsiderate or selfish, try to give them the benefit of the doubt. You never know what they're going through behind closed doors. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their own battle."