Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hidden Gift of the "Little" Loss

The final game of Tom’s football season, at a time in his life when he needed football more than ever. It was the only game I had the privilege of attending between chemo rounds.

I was grateful beyond words to be there, regardless of being physically weak and having vision that has gotten a little bit blurry as a result of cancer treatments.

For the sport of football, the score ended incredibly high, something like 49 to 54. Both teams played their heart out. The Timpview Quarterback, Britain, ended up running the ball into the end-zone for a touchdown at least five times, before the night was through (three of which were recalled, instilling gasps, moans and yells from the crowd). It was clear that this young man was exhausted. Yet the whole offensive line were not going to give in, regardless of the challenges of the night. This was the final game.

At the end of one of the last plays of the game, Britain was sacked and the ball turned over. You could feel the cringe of every mother in the stands as this young man began again to hobble off the field; having pushed far beyond his edges, wholeheartedly, for quite some time.

About half way off the field I watched, with tears welling in my eyes, as two of the offensive line players spontaneously came up behind him and lifted him the rest of the way off the field. This gesture of comradery and compassion touched me so deeply. I know first-hand how feeling like you are spent, having reached the limit of what you think you can take feels. I was living it that night, and the image of these two players, recognizing his plight and assisting him was so inspiring to me in that moment.

Going into this diagnosis last summer, I was already at a low ebb, grieving the passing of my dear friend, and co-worker Rex. I assumed my decreased energy was part of the natural grieving process, and wasn’t paying attention to other signs that something may be off. So at a time when most gear up to muster a “fight”, I had none. It was all already spent. 

Yet throughout this experience I have felt myself sustained by the faith, prayers and healing energy of others on my behalf, not unlike the struggles on the football field that evening this past fall.

So many spontaneous acts of kindness, support and strength: Loved ones watching over me, Hats sown and knitted for my head, food left at my door, kind words of encouragement on these posts and FB page, and love expressed in more ways than I would have ever expected.

At times my mind has dropped into worry at how much loss I will be asked to bear. What side-effects may end up permanent, how long I will have to be with my son; how much sacrifice will be required of me?

All these normal questions were stirring in my mind recently as I fell into a bit of a brooding sleep; and there in my dream I found myself visiting with my old friend Rex. Holding me tight in his usual way, he reminded me of something I already knew that woke me straight out of my sleep. He said: “Syl, whatever is lost in form is always gained in essence”. His demeanor was encouraging, like he could read all the layers of my worry, and answered strait into my heart. I know this concept of balance between “form and essence” to be true from what I teach others through yoga, but I had never thought of it, as he was telling me.

When I think of something lost in “form”, I think of the completeness of death. But in this context he was telling me not to worry about what feel like losses strewn along the way. That each “little loss” is expanding my spirit. He was sharing with me his vantage point. Each disappointment, disability, or limitation that comes as part of the mortal experience evolves the soul (Essence-Self) beyond where it would otherwise be. The essential perspectives that result from each incremental "loss" are one of the main purposes of what we are doing here.

What we call death is only the culmination of all that our lives have caused us to become. A shedding of all the resistance of mortality, and in laying down our frame the spirit experiences an expansion that surpasses comprehension. Yet all the little losses along the way expand that potential as well--whether it’s normal aging, injury, loss of loved ones, or circumstance.

It’s our nature to grieve these “little” losses (compared to the big final letting go each of us will do); to focus on them from only one side. Based on my experience in my dream, I think we would rejoice if we could see what each one was doing for the essence of who we are; and how sensitive, responsive and magnified our essence (or spirit) becomes as a result.

After the final football game, driving home with Tom, I shared with him how inspiring that moment was, as Britain was helped off the field...Tom replied: “Mom, that was ME on his right”.

I can’t express the gratitude that filled my heart that this would be my son’s “knee-jerk" reaction. That he would see it, and act, just because that’s the kind of person he is. That it would be his nature to help someone make up for a little loss...If I learn nothing else from my life, the fact that I get to spend my time as this young man’s mom is better than any other experience or success I could ever be blessed with.

Though I don’t feel it every moment and still find ways to focus on the “little” loss compared to the blessing of each day, I echo the sentiments Tom posted on his FaceBook page on Thanksgiving Morning, (also echoed in the quiet dream-time visit with my dear Rex):

“Be thankful for all your trials, obstacles, and yes even your discouragements. It's easy to be thankful for the happy moments and experiences. It's those hard times, hard moments that make you the person you are. So be thankful for those even though at times it may be difficult. Happy Thanksgiving everybody. --Tom”

So as this year wains to it’s close, I want to thank you all for the ways you have been sustaining Tom and I. Treatments are working, and we feel your support. Our faith for our future is strengthened in your prayers & kindness on our behalf. They are playing such important role amidst this lovely, greater balance that truly supports us all!

Noel & Namaste