It’s been a year. One whole year in America. A year of waiting and trying, getting our hopes up, getting disappointed. A year of learning…patience.
Such a dreaded word. Say it with me—take a deep breath and say that terrible word as you exhale slowly. It does something to the core of your being, doesn’t it?
If anyone had told me, as I boarded the plane from Abu Dhabi to Miami, that this was going to be a year of silence, of waiting for progress, of internal struggle with oh-so-little tangible payoff, I would have been furious. I didn’t come back to the States to sit around. I have goals and aspirations, damnit.
But sit I have. I’ve sat and watched as each time we pursue some new possibility it fades away, doesn’t work out, leads to a dead end. I have sat. While internally throwing passionate tantrums.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that living with my parents has been a challenge. We do a lot better than most, but I and my little family have been living in other people’s homes for nearly two years now. The more time passes the more I’ve found myself getting desperate for my own space. I’ve cried about it more than once.
But then something tragic happened and simultaneously my prayers were answered. But not at all in the way that I had envisioned.
Earlier this month, my father received a call. His older brother was dying. His cancer, in remission for a while, had suddenly returned with a vengeance. He was expected to live for only a few more hours, but managed to hang on for another week. He passed away April 2nd.
I did not know my uncle. The last time I saw him was twenty years ago. Yet somehow the last week of his life, knowing that this man of my own blood was counting down his hours, hit me like a brick. “There is nothing in this life that I want,” he told my father. “I’m ready.” I couldn’t, and still can’t, fathom such words.
There is so much in this life that I want. So I asked myself, in light of my uncle’s last days, what is it that I want most? Is it for my dreams and aspirations to be fulfilled? If the tables were turned, if it were me looking at life from its end, what would I miss?
The list of experiences that rushed through my thoughts surprised me…
I would miss the way the sun shines through new leaves in spring. My son’s dirty fingers when he pushes his toy cars through the grass. The way he pauses from play to touch my face with those same dirty fingers. The smell of coffee when my family, living too closely together in this house, wakes up and descends on the kitchen all at once. Planting my garden and being amazed each time a seed wakes up and comes to life. My husband’s kiss in the dark. These, not my dreams, were the things I reached for first at the thought of my own last days. These are my diamonds, the here and now. Not the golden idols of the future that I so desperately wait for to fulfill my own happiness.
I have been praying for change, progress. My prayers have been answered, not from without, but from within. Standing in the kitchen, watching my son on the toy-covered floor, I realized that I felt different. The frustration that I’d been carrying around had been replaced with a patience full of gratitude, not for the things I’d been hoping for—because gratitude can’t exist for what is yet to be—but for the things I have in my hand now.
What is in your hand now?