Sunday, February 26, 2012

What's given and what's handled





Is the ability to hold two opposing feelings and/or thoughts something that one is graced with or something that comes with time and experience and exposure? I don't know the answer, but I see it all the time in those who share the experience of caring for a child with disabilities or who have lost a child to illness. I can look at Sophie and grieve for the loss of "normalcy," but I can also exult in her being exactly the way she is. I can sorrow over the absurdity of changing a near-seventeen year old's diapers and marvel at the gift of intimacy that entails. My friend Jody's beautiful daughter Lueza suffered from severe cerebral palsy due to gross medical malpractice when she was born, and she died unexpectedly nearly a year ago at the age of sixteen, but Jody told me the other day that it was such an honor to have cared for her daughter so intimately for so many years. I'm not talking here about all that unconditional love blather, although trite expressions are trite for a reason. I'm heading toward an understanding of openness -- of what it means to be truly open to experience, to the relinquishment of false notions of power and control, to, dare I say it, Love. I wouldn't be able to live, one person might say, hearing of the death of someone's child.  I could never do what you do, another says, I just couldn't handle it. 

Contrary to what some might say, we're not given what we can handle. We're opening to handle what we're given.


23 comments:

  1. Your words are so perfect my friend. What we spoke of last night and here it is, said so eloquently and so beautifully. You have written what is in my heart.

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  2. i think that's the definition of love, in any real context. (background music, just as i typed this: etta james, Come Rain or Come Shine.)
    true love opens us to all experience.

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  3. Such an important piece of the story.
    Thank you for sharing it.

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  4. Your words so wise Elizabeth. It is ironic the thoughts others might give you or think, however since they do not share your life they can never know the day in day out life of your family.

    Your words plucked my mother heart with the softness of how gentle you are. So many times when I needed to bath, change diapers, cloth my children, did I have such a closeness of intimacy as you so put it. To gaze at their eyes and marvel at how they could be my child. It does not make any difference that your Sophie is a teen or an infant...your love is all around, your gentle touch and comfort.

    The words we say during those times together never change. We may be tired, in a hurry or resting in our thoughts while caring for our children. We are, we do..we care.

    As you said....we're not given what we can handle. We're opening to handle what we're given.

    Eloquent.

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  5. I have this visualization I use when a new challenge appears with my daughter. I close my eyes and relax; I just breathe and imagine my heart opening wider and wider and wider.

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  6. I love the way your love flows through your words. Each word seems like dew drops flowing into a vast ocean of understanding and empathy. How lucky is your daughter to have you! You are so gentle and so thoughtful. Your words open my heart. Thank you.

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  7. That was so clear. Hard won graceful wisdom.

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  8. As always, Elizabeth, I am humbled by your depth of insight and beautiful writing. What a truth to remember. And thanks for the Pema Chodron quote, I think it's time I revisited her.

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  9. True - but I never thought of it in these terms. Love your words, always.

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  10. Unconditional openness -- it is so much harder than it sounds, isn't it?

    But I know it is the only way to understand/make peace with our experiences with children with disabilities. Thanks Elizabeth.

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  11. I agree with you. It is part of the work of hardship and/or sorrow in our lives, and it is part of what makes us touch deeply into our individual and collective humanness. The ones who are fighting for control are the ones who haven't learned surrender yet. Life gives us so many chances to do this all along, but most of us will resist it until we have NO choice. And then, the deepest work of transformation begins.
    When I saw who wrote that opening quote, you can imagine what I thought...

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  12. beautifully said. The last line says it all and i wish i could wear it on a freakin' tshirt. :)

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  13. It is those who rail at the 'giver' or the circumstances who are blind to the path they are on. I heard a fable today about two men lost in the woods at night with hungry beasts all around them. There was a flash of lightning and the man who looked up at the heavens and railed and wondered "why" missed the sudden illumination of the path home. The man who knew that he would be able to see the way if he just kept focused on the path/journey looked ahead and used the light to help him.

    You are such a light for others on this journey, Elizabeth. Thank you.

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  14. so, so beautifully said, elizabeth.

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  15. Love this comment. It's funny because just the other day I was saying that it is peace I am looking for. A good reminder that it's not outside of me.

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  16. Love this post.... make sure you add it to the "how we do it" book when it's completed and published... thx for taking the "triteness " out of that quote and adding a rather large dose of beautiful, appreciated reality.

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  17. Thanks! You put into words so beautifully what I have felt for the last 18 years of caring for my child. I would not relinquish teh intimacy, ever.

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