I am no philosopher. I am neither optimist nor pessimist. I’m not an “ist” but I am a believer. I believe in strength; I believe in character; I believe in believing. I am hopeful when there’s hope; I am doubtful when there’s reason to doubt. I speak up and speak my truth. More times than I’d like to admit, a teaching nun has called me “A brazen article.” I can’t help it: some things flummox me. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and conversely, “Why do the wicked prosper?”
My very good friend has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, an illness that took the life of my nephew only two short months ago. I feel as though I’m living in a universe that can only be described as unfair, uncaring, unfeeling. My friend is my opera buddy, my go-to for book recommendations, my sounding board.
But this isn’t about me, is it? It’s about his prognosis and his fear and his family’s apprehensions. What can any of us do but accept the unacceptable? We all know that we are born with an expiration date. We try not to think about it, but when we know we are critically ill, that expiration date is writ with an indelible stamp in our consciousness.
So, I will be hopeful when there is hope and celebrate the fact that this diagnosis came about as the result of an emergency room visit unrelated to the cancer, which might not have been discovered for a long time otherwise. I will visit. I will listen. I will pray. I will be.
“Hope is a thing with feathers,” says Emily. But I like the last stanza best:
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.