The quote above gave me much pause for thought the past few days. It actually comes from a poem that my oldest son wrote and then delivered to my Mom and Dad at the 50th anniversary party that we threw for them of 10 years ago now. It’s such a beautiful quote, and is part of such a beautiful poem that he wrote and read to them at the party …
“Fairy tale beginnings, storybook endings. Insert life in the middle.” ~ C.B.H.
There are a few quotations and writings that follow this pattern of thought. One of the more recognizable writings that I remember discussed the “dash” between a person’s date of birth and their date of death. The context of the dash was very similar to what was written here about inserting life in the middle. It’s just a little dash, but it holds so much life and living in that little dash between the beginning and the ending of a persons life. Between their birth and their death. Insert life in the middle.
We’ve had another good week this past week. Brenda had her pre-op interview this past Monday, and all went well there with the nurse being very caring and taking her time explaining the process and procedures for her surgery day this Monday. I’m blown away with the nurturing, caring way of the medical staff so far, from the surgeon to the nursing staff. Most of them don’t know Brenda’s profession is as a nurse, so it is interesting with us knowing that and then watching them interact with her as they discuss the procedures and the treatments to come. Lots of people these days complain about the medical system and go on and on pontificating about it’s many failings and what they would do to fix it. So far so good though for us, and we are not complaining. The time has all gone by in a blink since Brenda’s mammogram and the resulting tests and such, and I am happy to report that so far the Canadian medical system has been responsive and the action has been fast and furious.
Brenda is a little tentative about what’s around the corner for her I think, but it’s been incredible with the love and support she has been receiving from neighbours and friends if anything is needed at all. They almost all offer rides, or to make us a meal. I can cook pretty well you know, people, so I don’t think we’ll starve! Through their own personal experiences with their own family and friends, pretty much all of these friends and neighbours know the trials and tribulations around radiation and chemotherapy and have offered rides for Brenda whenever she may need them. I’m not too concerned about that at all, as I can plan much of my work around most of these times when it comes to the need to get Brenda to her treatments unless I have to be out of town of course. In which case we will surely accept these kind offers of help. There’s also been a couple of calls from Brenda’s work friends that have really touched her this past week as well. These calls came from friends that she respects very much, and the fact that they took the time to call her meant so very much to her. Between the phone calls from caring friends and family we also managed to finish all of the out of town Christmas shopping we had to do, and so we are looking forward to wrapping this weekend (not!) so we can get them off to family members who don’t live nearby.
This past week, we had many discussions together. We’ve been together almost 14 years now, and Brenda and I were discussing our journey that brought us to the present times we are now experiencing, and thoughts came to me that made me realize that it seemed like the last while I had not been paying as much attention as I should to life in the dash so to speak. It came to me during one of these discussions that we were having that there have been those times and events in our married life where milestones are marked, there is often a beginning and an end to that event. The poet TS Eliot puts it another way …
“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” ~ T.S. Eliot
You see, Brenda’s and my married life has been made up of countless events that have been marked by a beginning milestone marker that marks the beginning of one of these events. As the most recent event concludes or comes to it’s end it is then marked by the ending milestone marker, and often that ending milestone marker becomes the new beginning milestone marker for the new event. Just like TS said. I’m sure that most of us have these beginning and ending milestone markers in the events of our lives if you really think about it. And sometimes there can be several events going on at one time. All these beginnings and endings, and all of these milestone markers. I’m not sure if I am making sense here. It’s one of my many faults, my mind tends to go in circles when I try and explain something, just ask my colleagues or Brenda about some of my rambling explanations. But our married life truly has been cyclical for Brenda and I in that way. It’s the life that we insert into the middle of these milestone markers that is important. Life in the dash.
The important thought for me here, is that when my personal light bulb came on during one of these conversations, I began thinking about life in the dash, and then I really began thinking about what life I had inserted in the middle of these particular milestone markers in Brenda’s and my married life together. Had we inserted enough life? Did we both feel that we had? I then decided to that I had to take responsibility for myself and ensure that I was inserting life in the middle. It’s what is in the middle that is most important, and it is the life we insert into the middle that often affects the outcome of a particular event. I need to take more control of the life I insert between those milestone markers, especially as it pertains to Brenda and I and our life together. Insert life in the middle.
Our new Christmas tree is done! We had fun doing it this year, and it was nice not to have to wrestle with a 500 or so pound real Noble Fir (well almost 500 pounds, honest!) as I wrangled it into the corner so Brenda could put the lights on it. Since it was a strictly blue job this year, I solved the problem by getting this pre lit artificial tree with the lights already on it. It has 5 different light patterns available, you can even decide whether to have white lights as shown, or with the click of a foot switch they can become multicolored. It’s pretty cool, but what was not so cool was the instructions on how to put it together. That, and the instructions said “minimal shaping required.” That was a lie, I think I’ll sue them for false advertising!
Christmas can be such a stressful time. So many of the activities around Christmas are stress inducing from the loading up of the credit cards, to the decorating of the house, to the running around to visit family and friends and go to parties. And sometimes family dynamics come into play at Christmas, with some of the personal events of the previous year between specific friends or family members who don’t communicate well lately for a myriad of reasons. Because Christmas has the potential to be such a stressful time, and because Brenda’s surgery and resulting treatments that we have to plan for are stressful enough, it is my goal to make sure that I do my part in relieving these stresses as best as I can.
The new Christmas tree was one way. Other than what I am positive was a misprint of “minimal shaping required” … the tree went very well and was fun to decorate. We have really toned down our Christmas buying this year, and our major present to each other was actually done almost two months ago now so that stress has been dealt with. Brenda is excited that her girls and their significant others will be here for Christmas this year, Jennifer and Jessie live here in Vancouver and Chelsea and Owen are coming back from Malta to be here for Christmas. We are planning to have a big family dinner with everybody in attendance when Brenda’s brother Bob and his wife Gail come over from Vancouver Island for a visit to Brenda after her surgery, and so they can visit with some of the other family members that they haven’t seen in quite some time since retiring to the island. I will ensure that there will be minimal shaping required when it comes to planning this family dinner so that there is no added stress involved for Brenda, and we will welcome each of the family members equally into our life in the middle between the milestone of Brenda’s surgery and the milestone before she starts her radiation treatments. Insert life in the middle. Welcome to our dash.
All for now, I ramble too much. Tomorrow is a big day for Brenda. Wish her luck, after this week she definitely knows how much all of you care, and so do I ….