A promise kept, the sword-like leaves of new green emerge from the detritus of shredded snow. The honoring of a sacred trust that an emotionless, flaming ball of gas 93 million miles away will still be there when our spot on our own emotionless ball of rock tilts its face upwards and shakes off the shackles of winter.
The forces that bend us are as much a gift as those that buoy us. People ask me how I'm feeling. Since early February, I have to remind myself of why; the question genuinely catches me off guard. How am I feeling? Terrific! As healthy as I have ever been, perhaps healthier on a baseline level. If I have had the occasional cold, it was no worse than any other, nor any more an injustice. Somewhere in my recent past there is this tremendous experience of growth, the opportunities from which are still just glimmers in my imagination, and yet so many folks seem still to express concern!
I don't resent it (it's nice enough to have people tell you how great you look, even if they mean "..considering that you have had a life-threatening illness"); how could I fault someone their generosity, or their genuine emotion. But in so many ways it was easier to be me than anyone else this fall. When I first got sick and spread the news around, a friend called to say, "I can't wait to hear how this new adventure turns out for you!" Now that is a powerful statement of confidence and comfort.
This is not to recommend that one necessarily respond to news of serious illness with words of congratulation. It is just that those that bear the burden of worry and doubt are reflecting their own needs as well in their concern. I have talked with others who have experienced severe illness about the impulse to try to care for the people who are caring for you, to offer them information and reassurance. I dreaded calling my parents to tell them of my illness because I was worried for them; I burst into tearful apologies on the phone. I think this is a large part of why it is so important to let people give; it is for themselves as much as for the recipient that they must do it. It is the gift that we who suffer the illness can give in response to the gift of the illness itself; strange gifts both, but powerful.
To hate the rain would be futile, but it would also be a terrible loss. What greater promise is there than the rain?