Sunday, January 27, 2013

Profiles in Courage

No, today I am not writing about the classic book by John F. Kennedy but about something more personal. I am thinking about my new heroes, my brother and sister-in-law, Alan and Sharon, who have spent the past five days here with us in the healing rays of the southwest Florida sun.

Recently my baby brother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that's going to need an aggressive form of treatment. I floated the idea that they might want to get out of the frigid Ohio weather for a few days of R and R before the grueling rounds of chemo begin. When they agreed, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

How do we ever know where and when illness will strike? Why some and not others? What can we blame? Environment? Genetics? Exposure to some chemical we still don't even know about? I suspect it's all a great big crapshoot and a waste of time, energy, and psychic power to even speculate. What's done is done and we can only move forward from today.

If my sister and I were asked, I'd bet we'd both admit to having made some less than stellar decisions during the course of our lives. My brother, on the other hand, did all the "right" things. Married to his middle school girlfriend for forty years now, father of four, granddad to five, he is just quintessential middle America.
A man who worked at the same job for thirty years, provided for his family, sacrificed, I'm sure, many of his own and Sharon's dreams for the sake of putting his kids through school, giving them the groundwork for a good life, a solid foundation, he thrilled to his first trip out of the country just last year.

Now, at 62, their wings are being temporarily clipped. But in their presence this week I felt such peace and acceptance in their attitude toward the months ahead. I questioned my own beliefs. I've written here before about how much I despise the military metaphors used to describe the unrelenting pursuit of healing from cancer. The "battle." The "long fight." I don't even know if I'd find the courage to move forward if it was me in this position.

But watching the two, still in love after all these years, walk together down the beach hand in hand, rejoicing in the warmth of the sun, the sound of the wavelets, the bracing smell of the salt water, I sensed deep in my soul that the healing had already begun.


TooManyBooks said...

Oh, Sally...I'm hoping all goes well for him. Lovely blog.

Sallyb said...

Hi Maryellen. I have a much better feeling about things now. It's supersticion, I'm sure, but seeing them this week calmed all my fears.