Last weekend Dale and I had the privilege of spending some time with Bob and his wife, Tina. His health, as I’m sure you all have suspected, has gotten slowly worse over the last few months, and he is currently at home and in the care of hospice. He has, he says, good days and bad days. On the good days he eats his favorite foods and watches football and visits with friends. On the bad days, well, I can’t really tell you about the bad days because Bob doesn’t talk about those days. He just shrugs his shoulders and says, eh, some days aren’t so good. And then he looks you in the eye and says it’s okay. He says that he knows where he’s going when he leaves this life. He says that it’s been one helluva ride and he’s done more and seen more than he ever thought he would. He talks about his music and all of the times he performed with the band, he talks about his faith and his family and his friends and what I see when he talks about those things is joy.
I shared this picture on Facebook the other day because it so perfectly sums up what life is all about.
Even though some might say that Bob’s life is awful right now, he still thinks life is amazing and beautiful and that just blows my mind. When Tina saw this quote she said that’s why we grieve so much when things are awful, because so much of life is amazing and beautiful. She’s right, of course.
There are life lessons here and I’m trying hard to process them. I know with certainty that my One Little Word journey of the past two years is connected to all of this. Last year, when my word was joy, I remember thinking that I was tempting fate – that by choosing joy I was actually going to have to face something terribly awful. And I was right. Bob got sick and there was no joy in that. Of course, what I learned was that we wouldn’t feel joy if we didn’t feel sadness, too. I found a whole new level of joy in spending time with Bob, in recognizing how very much he means to me, and I sort of learned that you can choose joy even when life sucks – I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s a struggle sometimes.
And then this year I chose the word grace for my One Little Word. I know a lot of people think of grace in terms of religion, and while I think of it that way too, that was not my intention when I chose it for my word. Grace in this context is about a way of living, it’s about love and acceptance and gratitude. It’s about staying calm and accepting the good and the bad stuff life throws at you. It’s about realizing that you can respond with grace even when joy is hard to find and you have to really really look for it.
And that’s what I see in Bob and Tina. Joy and grace in the face of some really awful stuff.