“Flying the friendly skies” is still a slogan, and as I boarded my flight I thought about Albert Einstein’s most important question to ask. “Is the universe a friendly place?”. I said to myself, “I hope so”… as I put my trust in an airline, a flight crew, some lousy weather and a whole host of people I don’t know.
The one time I break down and buy a junk magazine is when I forget to pack something to read for a rather long flight. (I remembered my Kindle as I was about to board the plane, only I visualized it at home charging up.) Instead, I grabbed the magazine that caught my attention, with a younger woman on the cover. a beautiful smile, and a caption of “I’m lucky to be alive”… a cancer survivor, following a double mastectomy. A number of famous people have recently been in the limelight as they battle cancer.
My niece is only famous to those of us who know and love her, but at 34 she has now undergone a double mastectomy, a hysterectomy, radiation treatment and a year of chemotherapy. Who would have imagined such a whirlwind of medical intervention when she was celebrating her 33rd birthday? I am reminded of the fragility of life, and the simple statements that medical professionals make that change everything. “The tumor is malignant.” “You will need surgery.” “You will need chemotherapy.” “You will need radiation.” And a new favorite…NED. “No evidence of disease.” Four simple words that shake your world.
My niece has a young family and a career, and so much to fight for, and live for. I can’t help but think how everything is relative. What seems like an unfair thing to deal with at one person’s young age, in another person’s life, would be a small miracle to survive to. Some I have known: The baby boy who lived past infancy but never made it to preschool. The beautiful girl-child who never quiet reached puberty. The pre-teen who was on hospice, only to survive and actually reach adulthood.
I am constantly reminded that none of us have a guarantee. And it doesn’t quite make sense to me, how one person’s life here ends after a few years, or a couple of decades, and someone else is celebrating their 95th birthday this week. It seems so random.
Yet my niece would tell you what she has learned and shared with the rest of us, tremendous lessons this past year. It all has meaning. Take nothing for granted. Live each day, in the knowledge that it is a kind of miracle in itself. Believe the saying, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” It’s all we really have. The Now. This moment.
So even though I spent good money and bought a dumb magazine, I thought today about the gifts I can celebrate: health, life, love. In our own corner of the world, with our sphere of people that care for us, this is today’s miracle. And yes, I do believe the universe is a friendly place.