Life is Full of Unexpected Challenges

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

This is the quote that I put into a card that I gave to K today.  I found out last night that she had a very bad week last week, and she didn’t tell me about it until yesterday because she didn’t want to ruin my vacation.

One night she went to bed and everything was normal, and the next morning her vision is blurry (and could possibly get worse).  What could be more scary that losing your sight, really?  And, just trying to put myself in her shoes has been difficult.  I could hardly sleep last night, partly because I was just imagining how difficult this would be for her, and partly because I was thinking about how quickly things in life can change.  It put my wrist pain into perspective.  It put my whole life into perspective.  Most of all, I was thinking about the inner strife and turmoil she must be feeling, something that she’s probably not sharing with anyone.  Her and I are alike that way, I think.  We want to be strong to the people around us and try to keep everyone else calm by seeming calm ourselves.  However, inside we are fighting a silent, personal battle and we just want to reach out.

I wanted to be there for her, and I did the best I could given that I only found out yesterday.  She is probably right: it would have dampened my vacation if I knew about it earlier.  She hinted that she wanted to tell me but stopped herself.  So I did what I knew how to do.  I found a card with a positive message and told her how sorry I am for what she’s going through.  How I know it must be frightening and distressing.  How if I was in her shoes, I wouldn’t be coping as well as she seems to be at this point.  How I wished there was something I could say to make it better, even though I know there isn’t.

And then I remembered all the advice she’s given me and gave it right back to her:  We just have to pick up the pieces and keep on going, because that’s all we know how to do – we have no other choice.  I told her that, with time, everything would be okay – maybe not right away, but eventually it would be okay.  I tried to be the best friend I could be.

At the end of the day, I am thankful I was there in some way.  I am even more inspired by how well she is dealing with her adversity and her unexpected challenge: Even in her moments of weakness, she is inspiring.  I will continue to be there for her any way I can, and I hope she will continue to let me in.

I will remember this the next time I am faced with an unexpected challenge in my life.

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