Resilience

Last night I met a friend that I hadn’t seen since New Year’s Eve, so we had a lot to catch up on.  In response to her question, “What’s new with you?” I began with the terrible cold I have right now.  Over the course of dinner I then shared that my father has been quite ill, was hospitalized, and is now in a rehab facility.  My mother has bronchitis. My cat died a month ago. Two of my aunts died in January, one day apart. As we were finishing dinner, she looked at me and said, “Wow, you have had a terrible start to your year!”

At first I was a bit surprised. I had not put all these events together and realized that it has been quite an eventful beginning to 2013. No wonder I have a bad cold – my body has been trying to tell my brain that I need to pay attention to what is happening and give myself time to process all these changes; to work through the impact and allow this “new normal” to set in.

And yet…  I did manage a January weekend trip to San Francisco and had one of the most relaxing breaks from work that I’ve ever had. Staying with an old friend, we visited Alcatraz Island, ate the best clam chowder I’ve ever had, and even took in a movie.

A month ago I drove to Chicago to visit my niece and her husband, went to Chicago’s first ever Hockey Classic, met their new, highly rambunctious puppy, and simply had a chance to catch up.  Again, one of the best weekends I’ve had in years.

And even when my dad was in the hospital, in spite of our growing concern over his worsening condition, I had the chance to have heart-to-heart conversations with my brothers and sisters that will stay with me; that gave me a chance to relearn who they are in this phase of their lives.

Human beings are remarkable creations. They have the capacity to experience pain and grief and sadness, and yet not let it overwhelm them permanently. In the midst of all that, they can also experience real joy. Resilience is the essence of being human, of really living: to live with and through all these things and still get up in the morning, to face whatever is next, to keep on keeping on.

I wrote about the coming of spring a couple of years ago, and how in the midst of winter we still know that spring will come. It’s just as true that in the midst of the heartaches and challenges we experience in everyday life we hold the hope, the expectation, that good things are coming.

Last night, as I was pulling into my driveway, my Check Engine Light came on in the dashboard of my car.

It’s a good thing I’m so resilient.