How often do you reflect and remember?
A few weeks ago Kate, many of our breast cancer community and I lost a remarkable person and friend Catherine Brunelle.
Since her death Kate and I have thought of her every day. There is no morbidity in our memories and daily reflection. There is though something remarkable that happens when she enters our consciousness.
I won't deign to write on Kate's behalf. Perhaps she will share her thoughts on another occasion but for me my reflections revolve around grace.
When you read the dictionary definition of grace you will find there are many nuances to the word and the underlying quality of the characteristic. For example, grace is said to be a characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement. It is also defined in these terms: seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.
In Greek and Roman mythology there are three sisters of grace known as Aglaia, Euphrosyne, andThalia, who dispense charm and beauty.
Photo credit: Paul Richer
Christian mythology defines grace as divine favour bestowed freely on people, as in granting redemption from sin and we often, Christian or not, use the phrase 'there but for the grace of god go I.'
It is this last notion that captures my thoughts. Kate and Catherine were diagnosed around the same time with much the same diagnoses. Both responded to the unthinkable with determination and a vow to keep living - fully, enthusiastically, with spirit and grace.
Where many crumble they remained steadfast.
Where many bemoan their lot they moved forward with a powerful determination to live a life that would be exemplary for others confronting the same or similar challenges.
Where many run and hide, they turned toward their shared adversity and brought their stories into the fulness of the light in the hopes that they might move others to live in grace.
In my book, Riding Shotgun - A book for men and the partners they care for there is a chapter which addresses the phenomenon of the Sword of Damocles. In it I write,
Before Kate's diagnosis I never fully understood the implications of the phrase 'sword of Damocles.' Here's the Wikipedia definition: The sword of Damocles is frequently used to reveal the imminent and ever-present peril faced by those in positions of power. More generally, it is used to denote the sense of foreboding engendered by a precarious situation, especially one in which the onset of tragedy is restrained only by a delicate trigger or chance.
During the last three years it has become abundantly clear that one of the lingering impacts of a cancer diagnosis is that both patient and caregiver experience an ongoing sense of foreboding. That often manifests itself in the little aches and pains that pre-diagnosis are dismissed as every-day events of little import. It can also be present during relevant anniversary periods - most notably the annual check ups with doctors, surgeons and health care practitioners. And, while the sword, in all likelihood will never disappear we can all of us learn to deal with its reality.
Having learned (or continuing to learn) that thoughts are not facts, we most often can keep the sword safely in its sheath. Then life intervenes with its sometimes harsh reality and out it comes - glistening with all its sharp edges and foreboding presence.
When Catherine died that happened to me. The sword seemed very real. Was it about to fall and strike our family? Why was our situation different from that of Catherine and Zsolt? How does Dame Fortune select those who win and those who lose?
And that's when it strikes me! In my times of reflection and remembrance Catherine's great gift was her grace. Never during the all-too-short time that I got to share this earth with her did I see her ultimately express anything but hope tempered with a graceful acceptance of reality.
Her's is a lesson from which we can all benefit.
© Copyright 2017, Don Kerr, Don Kerr Writes - All rights reserved.
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