It started when standing next the vacuums in Costco on a Saturday. The store was busy. Carts were in my way. My bald head, pointing out my fragile state, was covered with a hat. My husband was, who knows where, in the store. And the timing was just right I guess. I let my imagination take over. Here’s how it went.
I imagined I was driving a red convertible sports car. My hair was long, blond and flowing. My fingernails had French tips and I was smiling my Crest White Strip smile in the warm sun. My husband, or some random man (for the sake of the imagination it did not really matter who the man was next to me) was in the passenger seat with his shirt unbuttoned to his navel and a gold chain dangling around his neck. We were driving the coast highway at a very high speed, living care free; not a worry in sight.
It was about this time I caught myself in my imagination and snapped back to reality when a little boy bumped his mommas cart into my shins. I limped out of the vacuum isle to the dishes, mumbling something about how parents need to take better care of their kids and glancing around for my husband. No luck. It was next to the dishes that I realized how crazy my earlier musings were. After all I was in Costco with Cancer. I did not own a red car. I had no hair. My husband would never go for the gold chain thing, so I switched the imagination.
I imagined I was wearing elastic waistband pants, a baggy shirt, and loafers. My hair was short, curly and gray. I wore glasses and I went to the local library and volunteered to read to the kids. I was grandma extraordinaire without a care in the world.
It was here, being grandma extraordinaire in my imagination next to the dishes in Costco, that my husband found me. Together we walked silently up to the checkout line. I was quiet, troubled, and exhausted. The tears began to roll.
How many times have we been living a scene we wish we could change? I think it happens more often than we care to admit. It could be that mid-life crisis or dropping out of school or even changing jobs begins with our dissatisfaction of the moment. An angry argument, substance abuse, or even divorce might sometimes begin there as well.
I have often reflected on that Costco experience. My desire to escape the hardship I carried was palatable and intense. I wanted to run away from my reality and find a carefree place to rest where cancer was non-existent and fear could not touch me. I know I am not alone in that desire. Most of us have been there at one time or another, with or without cancer.
But, you know what is so cool about this? I’m looking back at that moment now. That time has passed and a new moment is here. The one I am in right now is better than the one I was in then. Time springs hope. Patience breeds renewal and keeping my thoughts on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, excellent and praiseworthy makes the moment livable. Regardless of the baggage it may carry.
If you’re struggling right now, keep standing. Hang in there. Believe for better. Think good thoughts. And may you be blessed in your trial and emerge a more complete and capable human being.