No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.
Discovery lights children with vitality. As we age, it seems we find fewer moments that fill us with awe. Is it that we become jaded to joy? Or, do we become so resigned to our circumstance and routine that we decide there isn’t anything worthwhile left to find?
When Chris, Abraham and I stayed at the Ronald McDonald House near Loyola, the director informed us that the home was built with a secret. We were free to walk the floors and look for a hidden room. Despite the looming task of cancer treatment, the mystery fueled our sense of wonder. Knowing there was something to find kept us searching. We searched for hours and were delighted to discover a brightly painted secret passage with a spiral staircase hidden behind a bookshelf. One by one we wound our way up the tiny stairs to an enormous attic. The entire floor was sparsely furnished and minimally decorated, but its expanse was thoughtfully accented with quiet cubbies, game tables, and children’s art.
In the secret attic, we met a red-haired boy named Andrew expertly sinking billiard balls (despite his heavy reliance on a walker) who became a dear friend to Abraham. A small window seat overlooking the flower garden became my favorite hideaway. After our discovery, years fell from Chris’ eyes while his movements and posture revealed a lightening of his spirit. He often recalls our time at RMH Loyola as “our magical stay at the castle.”
We had arrived at “the castle” physically, emotionally, and spirituality exhausted just days after Abraham had received his central line, and we remained there as the dreaded combination chemo-radiation treatments began. The rooms were small, and the area was sketchy, but the atmosphere of possibilities at our home away from home was different-otherworldly. As a result and despite our pain and apprehension, we had great fun.
I mention this today because it reminded me of how different life becomes when we actively seek hidden joys instead of expecting them to materialize without direction or effort.
(Chris and Abram in front of RMH Loyola, July 2015)
My recent lack of posts belies my standard routine. I write every day to let go and work through the pieces of life that strike me -good or bad. Currently, my family is steadily progressing down the twisted, singular road of pediatric cancer survivorhood. Though I sometimes share the teachable moments we uncover, lately I’ve become cautious.
With each paragraph I write, I feel more and more protective of my thoughts. Why should I add our personal joys or struggles into a social mix where blanket hatred abounds and keyboard critics reign? Scrolling through the social muck and placing a photo of my children or myself in the mix feels like trickling glitter down a drain.
Then I remembered searching for The Secret Garden at Ronald McDonald House and the lasting effect that day of discovery had on all of us. I want readers to feel my faith in the unseen possibilities that can come despite trials and loss. It’s easy to choose joy when days go well, but it’s vital to choose light when life goes dark.
Maybe if I cast out flashes of decency and hope, some of its glitter will stick to the edges of our plunging, murky standards. It’s a small drop in a large bucket, I know. Yet, I am compelled to remind others that amid the endless trauma and pains of life there remains abundant happiness to seek.
I see myself as a hopeful realist. I know that there is a shortage of love and an abundance of evil in the world. I know it is always a close race between what should be, what can be, and what will be. I also know that life isn’t always fair.
But I choose to focus on what I can bring to the human race so that I can best lead my family through its tricky paces. I find it fruitless and ridiculous to spend precious time fixated on the transgressions of others running in their own lane.
So, despite the social spectacle dousing reality with real (and imagined) fears, I will face forward and move along in positive measures.
While doing so, I hope no matter the climate, I can continue to chronicle our shared, imperfect, spectacular landscape where limited days draw purpose and unlimited hope fosters love.