Friday, February 25, 2011


"There are two ways to live; you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle."  ~ Albert Einstein

I feel incredibly blessed right now. I'm doing very well, and while I still have further to go on my journey of recovery from surgery, I am gratified by how much progress I've made. That said, I have been hearing, with increasing fervor, that my prognosis and recovery are a "miracle". This expression has passed through the lips of atheists and believers in God alike. I've heard it from older people, and from the friends of my teenagers. I know that these utterances of thankfulness regarding my health are meant with love, joy and gratitude. I realize that people are reassured that someone can have a malignant tumor, go through major surgery and then reemerge, healthy, on the other side. I am overwhelmed by how pleased people are on my behalf. I feel astonished that so many have been pulling for me. And yet, I am absolutely, completely and totally, uncomfortable with the word "miracle" when it comes to my recovery.

Why is it that one little word goes down my spine the wrong way? Shouldn't I feel appreciative that, despite sporting a colossal battle scar, I'm one of the lucky ones and therefore, a miracle?  The definition of miracle, according to the dictionary I have next to my computer, is: "an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause."  When viewed in this way, all I can say "Yikes!". I'm not a miracle in this way. If I am, then why was the woman, in the hospital room next to mine, given the news that there was nothing more that could be done for her cancer, but that she would be kept as comfortable as possible until the end? Why would I be spared and she be taken? Who am I that I should be considered "worthy" by God? I'm no one special. I pay my bills, do my laundry, teach some classes, walk my dogs and write this modest, irrelevant blog. Miracles should happen to those people who have the capacity to change the world, not to whining, annoying slobs like myself. I am completely unworthy of a miracle. I have nothing to offer the world in return for my health. 

Perhaps, my discomfort of the world "miracle" has to do with my own inability to give back to the world what I've been given. How can I possibly repay the universe for more years with my family? What do I have to offer than couldn't be more exceptionally lavished by a woman with more talent, more intelligence, better skills, and frankly, more chutzpah? I'm an inadequate miracle receiver. I can't even make toast without burning it! What can I do to improve the lives of those around me, when I whack off the side mirrors of my car with frightening regularity? I'm humbled and bewildered.

Still, as the French writer and satirist Jean de la Bruyere wrote in the 17th century, "Out of difficulties grow miracles". Had I not been diagnosed with Leiomyosarcoma for the second time, I wouldn't have been in a chance to take stock in my life, my circumstances and the blessings that I had already been given. Maybe the miracle isn't my recovery. Maybe it's in the way I choose to live my life from here on out. Maybe it lies within my ability to smile at those people having a bad day, or being kind to everyone I know. Perhaps, it's the delight I've begun to take in the most mundane of tasks. I have a silly kind of joy at being able to vacuum my own floors again. The miracle in my life, I believe, is not my recovery. I put that solely in the hands of my excellent doctors, as well as in my own stubborn sense of hard work when it comes to exercise. The miracle, I think, is what I choose to do from here on out.

Am I a miracle? No, I am not. I remain the same exuberant, goofy klutz I have always been. The miracle lies in the little bits of love I can throw out, like a tiny pebble tossed into a still, deep pond. The circles, ripples and small currents I create in meager ways, may just produce that phenomenal wonder. I can only sit back and watch it unfold.

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