There's a rather cliché saying, "When it rains it pours," and I just found out there's a lot of truth behind that statement. I came home for the holidays to be with my family, especially my daddy. You see my dad, my hero, my Superman has cancer. I came home with all the intention in the world to spend as much time as humanly possible with him. Four days into my happy holiday trip home, however, my mom almost fainted at work and was sent to the ER with "heart problems" My initial reaction, "You're F-ing KIDDING ME!!" So I spent four days in the hospital, not with my dad but with my mom.
Waiting for results after a multitude of tests, food runs, and requests for extra blankets after shivering on the pathetic little hospital cots has been my recent reality. I’ve taken fastidious mental notes on “doctor talk” in hopes of understanding the problem, of assessing our best options in order to properly relay the message to the rest of my concerned family. I’ve attempted to work in the midst of the chaos, taking conference calls while sitting on the floor inside the bathroom of our private hospital room.
On day two, I took a lunch break and headed straight to my childhood best friend's house. As I walked in having not yet shed a tear, Fran said five little words that broke me into pieces as I fell into her arms, "It's just too much, Jones." She was right. It was too much; it's all just too much.
The ambiguity of my life, the sensitivity that the holidays induce, the fear and insecurity of not one, but both parents separately facing life-threatening situations is too much for one girl to handle. So, for three nights I laid in that cold, little cot and reflected on life because that’s what you do in a situation like this. It forces an instantaneous recalibration of everything you thought mattered, where you reevaluate the foundation of who you are, of what you want, your expectations and standards of the past, present and future. Maybe it’s the delirium of having not slept in days, but I woke up with the revelation that despite what we think, we are in fact not entitled to this lifetime. We aren’t entitled to finding the love of our life and growing old with them, having happy, healthy grandbabies and fashionable grandma shoes (you know the ones I’m talking about).
This year I have never been so conscious of the fragility of life, the preciousness of our time and the gift of each day. I feel like I was already a person who prided myself on “soaking up life," but I’ve never been so clear about what life is really all about — the relationships you make along your journey. I looked around that hospital room and saw my family come together, my little village giving a rally cry and the people who really matter, stepping up to the plate. My closest friends called and said, “You need me and I’m there Lex. I can be on a plane today, just let me know." That’s what defines your real crew. There’s such an irony that in the midst of your most difficult life challenges you see who your real “people” are because they literally show up.
My brother has a phenomenal perspective on the most impressive people he knows being the kind of people who live an “inconvenient” life; a life that weaves people into the fabric of their life’s tapestry even when it’s not ideal. I woke up to the recognition that my community is priceless and the caliber of people I have in my corner are unparalleled. I may not have millions in my bank account, but I won the lottery in life when I was born into my family and when my friends were shipped my way. People are where the real wealth is and yet we’ve been convinced that significance is found in prestige, public accolades, financial opulence and fame. What a travesty that most people are deceived into thinking that worth is wrapped up in anything other than who they choose to go through life with. So this Christmas my gift came early, quite frankly because it’s always been there. Appreciation. I just see it more clearly now. Life is short and it takes courage to play full out, with your heart on your sleeve, courageously loving, forgiving effortlessly and going big or going home.
Life isn’t perfect, and it’d be boring if it was, but I am here to give it my all. To all my loved ones (you know who you are), thank you for your endless faith in me because your support, encouragement and unconditional love are all priceless. As my daddy said to me growing up (and still to this day), “YOU are my greatest treasure.” I love you all, dearly. And to life — no more excuses, justifications, or cop-outs because I’m leaving everything on the field.Images courtesy of Newclothing.co, Msnbc.msn.com