Early on in her fight against brain cancer, my mother started making a list of the advantages. While they were tongue and cheek for the most part, there was also a grain of truth to the fact that once you are facing a terminal disease, none of the stuff that you thought was so important before the moment of your diagnosis even registers on your radar.
Among her list of things that she is no longer worried or concerned about or afraid of: Germs on toilet seats, flying, being abducted, eating dessert, flossing, getting her hair messed up, dogs, being abducted, caffeine, terrorists, late fees, taxes, car-jacking and thunder.
It occurred to me that being the daughter of someone with brain cancer also frees you up from the fear and concerns you dwelled on in your former life.
Anyone who has experienced a tragedy that feels like your family has been hit by a torpedo knows what I’m talking about. When I hear whining and complaining now, it sounds like this to me: Blah, blah, blah. Things that used to ruffle my feathers, I simply dismiss and ignore and put in the “don’t care category.”
In short, life comes into razor sharp focus. It is a place where there is no time or energy for the tedious, the mundane and the unimportant. You become Teflon in a world where so much energy is spent agonizing over things that don’t matter.
Here’s what I worry about now. Is my mother comfortable? Did she get enough to eat? Is she drinking enough water with her medication? Do I need to refill her medication? Is that her calling me in the middle of the night on the baby monitor? Does she need me? And most of all, how does she feel?
So, as I re-enter the working world, I do so with a new perspective, one that will be for now always encircled in the battle that my family is facing.
But even after the journey is over, I hope I will remember the lessons that I have learned throughout this journey — that energy spent worrying about minor things in life is wasted. Reserve it for things that matter, because you never know when you’re really going to need it.