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“This too, shall pass.” My mother always uses this quote on me when I’m feeling anxious or unsettled with something that is going on in my life that I cannot change, and only that often-frustrating thing called “time” can heal.
I’ve had one of those months that feels like every day has been a struggle, like two steps forward and one giant leap backward is my daily exercise. We’ve all had those weeks where life continually challenges us, and we feel like we’ve done something bad to deserve this. But as they say, when you’re going through hell, keep going, right?
On one of these March mornings, a friend recently said, “I told you this month would break you. Finigan’s finding out she actually does kind of hate it here during the winter in Nantucket.” Which is when I have to sit back, breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth, and resist the urge to fill up his Diet Coke with a regular one, just to be annoying right back.
I’ve sure felt out of place on Nantucket over the last month. Not just because it’s almost T-shirt weather one minute and puffy jacket weather the next. Not because everyone is getting all geared up for summer and it’s barely spring, or because it was school vacation and while it seemed everyone else was gone, I was still here. I just can’t help but feeling like there’s always some other place I should be. And it’s not on a beach in the Caribbean or watching the sunset somewhere exotic. I really want to spend this “hate” month on our loving rock, but alas, events out of my control have shifted my body and brain other places.
Globally, the earthquake in Japan has saddened me for all the people of that country. All that footage on the TV that makes my knees weak and my head spin. How can this be happening? And then there’s all the explanations of earth shifts, and wave reactions, and speeds that I can’t even fathom. We get back to thinking about the earthquakes in New Zealand over the last year, and remembering the tsunami of 2004. These are moments in life that make you stand still, after you know the whole planet has moved and nothing will ever be the same.
I’ve recently been taking the bus from Hyannis to New York City and it broke my heart to hear about that devastating bus crash outside the Bronx, killing more than a dozen people on their way back to the city from Mohegan Sun. You think about how so many people rely on public transportation, how easy it is to just get in a taxi or hop on a train with a destination of home in mind, but then to end up in the ER? It makes you just question every movement and ask why these people? Why now?
Oh, and the reason I’ve been going to New York City? No, I’m not taking mini-vacations to beat the Nantucket winter blues or trying to find the best new sushi on the island of Manhattan. It’s because my sister has been in the hospital for the last month. Through surgeries and tears, a few times of joy and the depths of deep sorrow, I’ve held her thin hand, trying to radiate positive energy into her, while doing my best not to sugar-coat everything. And you know what I’ve found out? I think every hospital room should be equipped with a closet and a punching bag. Sometimes, life just seems so unfair.
And when it is someone else’s burden, what can we do? We send cards and flowers to those in the ICU. We donate our hard-earned money to fundraisers for people and places hit by catastrophic events. We take our own initiative to raise money by biking cross country or take ourselves to places like Haiti and Africa, trying to make a difference with our own two hands. And finally, we pray. And I often feel so bad when I do pray, as I can’t help but notice that I’m always trying to “talk” to God to help me out only during times of need and hardship and not just have a quick chat day to day.
So yes. This month has just about broken me. It’s broken my heart and tested my sunny spirit. It’s put me in my place when I complain about a few days of windy weather when you think about the devastation of a tsunami. It’s made me think about slowing down and remembering that we all need to drive a little more carefully. And finally, I’ve realized that life is quite a gift and not a given. The best day is the present. So make the most of yours.
And yes, this too, shall pass.
But until then? I will smile and pray and keep on, keepin’ on. Because sometimes, even though it’s frustrating, it’s the best I can do.
– Holly Finigan’s “Finigan’s Findings” appears regularly in this space, and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror.