Diagnosis : Brain cancer.
Patient : The matriarch of my husband’s family. My husband’s grandmother.
They say it’s massive. That they need to start treatment immediately. They are having a family meeting where she will find out this afternoon. In less than two hours. The doctors didn’t tell her face to face. She was too tired. They told my mother in law. She told me.
And to think that this very morning I had the thought of an old saying , “the mind is a terrible thing to waste”. I should know who wrote it but I don’t.
It is. It’s terrible to waste it.
But It’s much more terrible to be forced to waste it. It’s terrible That she can’t remember to put on pants to visit with company. That the first article of clothing she puts on in 40 degree weather is a pair of shorts. That her water bills were forgotten and her water was cut off.
Her mind is being wasted. She has no control. She will lose it To cancer or a complication. The massive disease in her brain, the thought storage, her memory bank, will take her from here.
It isn’t fair………
I’ve asked myself before what I would do if my house burnt down. What items I would want from inside.
My answer is nothing.
Given that my family is spared and healthy, I need nothing inside the physical house I call home .
But the house isn’t home. It’s a collection of where my dreams have turned into reality. Where my children and myself laugh. It’s a mixture of pain and peace and calm and hell and joy. Yes, joy.
But practically, I can uproot my family and myself and we can make “home” anywhere. And this is why: because the sum of all that is most precious is stored in my mind. I’m able to draw on it in despair and remember great times. I am able to laugh at past memories. I’m given the capability to vision and conjure and write and read.
Yes, it would be terrible to waste all of it.
And even more terrible to have it give out on you. Even more terrible To want to remember the way something felt, tasted and smelled and to not to behold it. To want to recollect the way You held your first child or grandchild. To not remember the way your husband looked at you after years of marriage and through those eyes still alluding to his desire to choose you after the good and bad and ugly.
It’s not fair.
But the fact is, if life only doled out fairness, we could anticipate always dealing with the just and right and pure.
But it doesn’t.
So we deal with the unjust, the unfair, the inhumane. And we watch the suffering in hopes to be healed. We experience it in an attempt to see beauty within and to glimpse a God that knew and knows.
I cling to only what has been just and right and holy from the very beginning of my spiritual journey. And through the refinement, I know that sometimes it will burn and ache and blister. But my mind can be made new. My mourning can turn to rejoicing. My sadness into joy.
And the mind won’t be wasted.
I will be present today and watch the suffering and her mind being wasted, knowing that in years to come, my memory bank will have recorded right now. Then I can tune in and remember it. And I’ll use it to draw from. To write from. To remind myself of the shortness of life. To give my husband a hug and kiss because tomorrow isn’t promised. To hold my child a little longer before bed because it won’t be exactly like this for very long.
And I’ll remember.
And right now won’t be a waste. It will be for a purpose. A greater purpose than my mind can conceive. And I like it that way.