I had already written a post that was ready to publish, then came Hurricane Harvey.
The devastation in Houston is almost incomprehensible. Thousands and thousands of people have lost everything they have, except their lives. Some even lost those. The heartbreak is difficult to watch. We want to do something. Say something. Help in some way. But some things simply cannot be helped. Some things just are.
Devastating events are seldom as public as Katrina and Harvey. More often, devastation happens privately. A husband dies. A child is hit by a car. A woman goes blind. These personal tragedies happen ... Every. Single. Day. In the coming weeks, the public destruction of so many lives will become less public and more personal to those who survive. Extremely personal. They will rant and rage and shake their fists at the sky. They will weep. They will suffer their own anguish in a way none of us can imagine. Then, when their own storm of fury and tears has passed, they will be still. And they will see the gift that is their life as never before.
When we face what feels like insurmountable challenges we often ask, why me? Why is this my life? Why is this happening to me? We take it so personally. I know. I've been there.
But make no mistake, you have not been hand-selected out of a crowd of billions to suffer your own particular fate, though I’ll be the first to admit that it sometimes feels that way.
Long ago I stopped struggling to discern some divine purpose for my cancer diagnosis. Instead, I have tried to embrace my new understanding of life that arrived as a welcome side effect. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that each breath is as important today as it was yesterday, especially when I get caught up in some drama over this thing or that, and forget that none of those things are really the point.
Thousands of people will learn in the coming months, or years, what this means -- long after they have faced the all-consuming task of getting past today. They will be able to see the bigger picture in the context of the dust specs swirling to blind them. They will step back and take a breath and observe where they are. They will listen, and hear what they are hearing. They will love, with all their might, those who surround them. And they will live fully, experiencing each day as if it were literally the last.
Because it could be.
And we are, each of us, well served to never forget that.