I have a friend who had major surgery this week and posted that she was recovering and enjoying the beautiful view from her hospital room. It brought me right back to a hospital room I grew to know all too well that also had a beautiful view. We were on the 15th floor of a major hospital and the big picture window was aglow with the city by sunlight or moonlight.
For 10 days, a year and a half ago, that room was our little world. We moved onto other rooms with no view, but those first weeks we felt like we were in the penthouse. And even though we had just heard the scariest news – cancer – and he underwent major surgery – we never ceased to marvel at the view. And this is one of the biggest lessons, greatest truths, that I have come to learn through my husband’s death and the after: two things that seem so opposite can be true in the same moment. You can have cancer, or love someone who has cancer, and still notice, and even enjoy, the view out the window.
This is not a new concept, but when I lived it as he was ill and then dying, and as I Iive it now, it amazes me. It is one of those things I Wonder at. I am sure it will be a theme that comes up over and over for me because I tend toward the black and white. Your are in or you are out, its good or its bad. I never did like ambiguity much (who does). And this is not even about living in the gray – it is about seeing that the good and the bad can exist at the same time. This lesson was revealed over and over for me as we transitioned from diagnosis, to hope, to the truth of impending death – 3 months start to finish. It was both the most loving time in our life and the most tragic.
In the after, the sorrow and the joy live in me and around me at the same time. A year after his death I took the kids to the Caribbean, a trip supported by the kindness of others. I woke each morning to breathtaking sunrises (see photo at top of blog) and also to the stunning fact that my husband was not with me. The only reason I was even in the Caribbean looking at this sunrise was because he had died. The glorious view and deepest sorrow existed in the same moment. How can this be – that something so beautiful can exist alongside something so sad? I am learning to question this less and accept that this is the way of human resiliency. That being able to appreciate the view, to look up and see beauty, is what got us through and carries me now. I hope it remains.