I usually listen to NPR in the morning while I get ready for the day. Unlike the local news, I relish the global review of the latest whatnot, politics and events. There is something amazingly humbling in hearing about the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan...I'm complaining about laundry? The trembling voice of the Chilean miner's wife who is camping in the barren desert in the smallest of tents even as you read this, until her husband can be pulled from the collapsed tunnel he is trapped in--a process that may take months--reminds me that while my husband is putting in long hours at the office--he is coming home tonight.
Sometimes, perspective is everything.
Every Friday there is a segment called StoryCorps that airs. A minute or two of dialog between usually two people--often "interviewing" although sometimes it's just one telling their story. This morning it was a married couple. He has Alzheimer's. She is his caregiver.
Honestly, I had to do my eyeliner over three times.
She asked him what he had learned from the disease. He said, "I have learned that I am not made up of memories or knowledge. I've learned that who I am....is in my heart."
This has hunted me all day. Even as I type now I'm fighting back tears.
Who am I...in my heart? Am I kind? Critical? Generous......demanding?
Who are you in your heart? If you lost all of your knowledge, your memories, your past....if you were just your heart....who would you be?
With your children....your spouse...your neighbors.
Would I be able to find joy in waking up? In toast and a poached egg and a cup of tea? Could I live inside of one single day without tomorrow, without yesterday? Can you imagine...holding on to no anger, nursing no worries, no fears... just today. To be content. In only today.
He sounded happy. Quite stunning really. I think I envied it, even while I ached inside for what he had lost. Perhaps it had been balanced by what had been gained?
What is the value of peace? How much does serenity cost?
At the end, his wife said that she had read somewhere that if you loved someone....truly loved them...you would wish to outlive them. You would voluntarily bear the burden of loss and grief and hold them to the end. She wept.
She told him she was so glad, so very glad she was there to hold him.
Who she was in her heart.....was breathtaking.