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Warmest regards: Re-evaluating my word for today

Published August 31. 2018 10:53PM

My word for today is precarious.

Life is precarious.

One minute we’re fine, floating along in what I call “everydayness.”

We don’t give much thought to the day and probably don’t spend much time reflecting on the precariousness of life.

Then all of a sudden, wham! We’re hit by something that stops us in our tracks and rearranges our thinking. It also often rearranges our entire life.

That’s been the case recently for my family and me.

For days I was happily packing and coordinating with my daughters for our family trip to Maine.

Andrea found a large family compound in Maine and invited her extended family to stay there for a week.

My biggest worries at that time were about the flies, mosquitoes and ticks in Maine as well as the long layovers I would have as I flew from Florida to Maine.

My daughter Maria was so excited to be going on the big family excursion.

Then out of the blue, wham!

She had to be taken to the emergency room with a life-threatening situation. It became even more worrisome when she wasn’t responding to treatment.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. We were told one evening they were testing her for pancreatic cancer. The doctor told us not to look it up in the Internet because we would be upset. Just wait for the results of the MRI, he said.

Of course we ignored his advice to “just wait.” We read everything we could and we were more than upset. We were devastated, sick at heart and physically ill because we thought we might lose Maria.

How can any parent cope with the loss of a child? I have no answer to that, other than feeling my own life ebb away at that thought.

After a long, sleepless, agonizing night, the morning nurse told my daughter the MRI found no mass on her pancreas. Andrea and I couldn’t stop crying in gratitude and relief.

Health-wise, Maria is left with a big mountain to climb, an arduous journey that she must be on for the rest for her life.

She’s wasn’t able to go to Maine with us because her medical treatment is more important.

For me, learning she could not go was like being told the sun was never going to rise in Maine. Not without Maria being there with us.

We all keep reminding ourselves to be grateful she didn’t die and she doesn’t have cancer.

Every day I go for my morning gratitude walk and say, “thank you.”

Then wham! Andrea needed emergency care for an infected knee injury. She was feeling good about biking 32 miles. A fall from her bike was painful but she kept pushing though it because she had so much to do for the trip.

When I saw a photo of the infected knee, once again I was struck with how precarious life is.

Later that week my husband’s adult children traveled from North Dakota to Florida to spend some time with us. It’s been way too long since we saw them and we were looking forward to showing them a good time.

Don and Alice said what they most wanted to do on vacation was go to the beach and swim in the pool.

Turned out neither was possible after Don was bitten by what he said was a stingray. It was a nasty wound that meant not getting in the water for weeks. The simple pleasures they looked forward to for three years were no longer possible.

All that reinforces the knowledge that we can count on nothing except the present moment. We don’t know what will happen in the next moment.

That’s an unpleasant thought we push away until it snags us in its trap. The only way to stay sane is to focus on the present and to be for every routine day.

No one should go through life thinking what bad things might happen next.

I think life’s difficult moments teach us we need to cherish the present moment, celebrating little daily pleasures.

We need to celebrate life every chance we get. I celebrate every bit of good news and it doesn’t have to be mine.

One would have to have a heart of stone not to celebrate the safe evacuation of the 12 soccer players and their coach that were trapped in an underground cave in Thailand for two weeks. I couldn’t get enough of that feel-good story, and I think there were millions of people around the world that felt the same way.

This is what I learned during my recent encounters with the fickleness of life.

Yes, we get hit with setbacks, both physical and emotional. And yes, it’s scary to think about how life can be grand one second and scary the next second.

But in between, we can look around and offer our help to those who need it. When we help others, we are helping ourselves at the same time because it makes us feel good both emotionally and physically.

The other thing we can do is to be grateful for every answered prayer, for every sunny day and for every bit of peace that we enjoy.

So my word for today is no longer going to be precarious.

I’m changing it to thankfulness.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.

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