Take Another Look
My niece Kristin, is 26. She has battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma for a number of years, and her battle is coming to an end. They gave her 6 months to live, and she’s passed that milestone.
But she probably won’t be with us much longer.
This morning, I woke up thinking about what I could have done better in how I treated her. I started first by looking at what I didn’t like about her. Doing this was difficult for me given her current condition.
What came up in me was how spoiled I thought she was, how her mother, my sister, doted over her all her life. Even though she was a good girl, it used to upset me to no end.
The upset says more about me than it does my niece or my sister. Maybe I was upset because I believed I never got that kind of love and attention. Maybe I was upset because she spent a lot of time thinking about her needs and wants. Maybe I was upset because I projected that I wanted her to be independent.
Maybe I was upset because I saw that her mother never had much of a life after she was born because she was doing all of the doting on her daughter.
Maybe all of that. Maybe even more.
But they all could be excuses in me.
From the lens of her dying, all of these beliefs, thoughts, excuses… they all fade into another realm.
A new perspective seems to be very clear in me right now. This perspective is a huge reminder to not too harshly judge anyone.
The new perspective is that maybe God knew that she would only live a third of her life. Maybe God wanted to give her as much love, attention, mothering, and the things that she wanted in life compressed into her short 26 years.
It would be great to have hindsight beforehand.
What would I have done differently if I had to do it over… I would have likely left her and her mom alone about the doting, kept my well-meaning but unwanted advice to myself. I would have just allowed things to be as they are, be okay with whatever happened.
And I would have been more giving to her myself.
What do I do for others from here on out… I do my best to remember that each of us has a Cross to bear in some way or another. And none of us get to judge whose Cross is harder or worse or more difficult or more easy.
I might even do this for myself as well. I could use the self-forgiveness.
While I was writing this, my aunt (who has been more like a close older sister to me) called to let me know that the test for cancer on her lymph nodes came back negative. She just found out last week she had breast cancer and had a fast mastectomy a few days later. We’re all thankful.
Remember we never know…doenst mean its a licence for you to put up with abuse…but you never know
Great post, Mark. We all tend to judge others’ behavior from the bias of our own perspective. I’ve done it as much as anyone. Still do. Sometimes, however, I catch myself as you have, and actually allow others the benefit of the doubt. When I do, it’s an incredibly freeing exercise for me (and likely lessens the burden that the target of my judgmentalness has to bear!).
I imagine you will recall a time when you and I directed some of that judgment toward each other. I came to realize that I was seeing you through false filters, and for that, I apologize. Publicly. We may well argue in the future, but perhaps we’ll be able to do it as friends. That, at the least, is my “ah ha” after learning more about you.
In my beliefs, I would frame your statement that “maybe God knew that she would only live a third of her life” with a sense that God knew that she would live *all* of her life, but in a time frame not to our liking. Perhaps she has little to do to complete her human experience, and is ready to move on to something beyond our comprehension. In that light, we can celebrate her life and her ultimate passing. The grief – and the remorse – we feel at losing someone offers us a powerful lesson; one that you seem to have integrated. Hopefully, the “shoulda” moments that arise from the losses we experience will evolve into something that will guide us to be more kind, more accepting, and ultimately, happier. I wish that for you, for myself, and for all of us. If we hold those precious lessons dear, we might even be spared the need for re-learning them, and the grief that accompanies those “remedial courses.” One can but hope!
Mark, I agree completely with the first comment, excepting the part God is supposed to play in the affair. I just can’t picture a God of the type that would know the number of hairs in each of our heads and care about it. Such a God would be comforting on the one hand, and terrifying on the other. I would invoke something impersonal LIKE Karma, when in mystical mode.
You are thinking from a male perspective. When I was growing up I had to older brothers who thought that I was spoiled and that my parents doted on me. Nothing could be further from the truth. They forget that they grew up in the depression and went off to WWII when I was only six. They had their doting as boys or sons in a household struggling to get along in hard times. I am nine years younger growing up during WWII. Different era. Familes struggled and did without because it was not to be had at any price. I had or dod not have the same opportunties as they had but aimed for a girl not a boy. I was not spoiled as they think, but discouraqed because I was a girl and could not further my education as they were able to do. When we judge others we are judging from what we experience and do not think or feel how the other person feels with their background. Although you had the same upbringing as she did, she is a she and you are a he. So you view things from that set of factors. It isn’t one is right or the other wrong. As you know there is something about Venus and Mars. Your sister fullfilled a need she had in doting on your niece. Maybe, she felt a need your niece had. Example, your little Clare. Your wife may feel a need to do somethng for her that you cannot understand. It is that crazy 6th sense mothers have.
Do not be so hard on yourself. Maybe, you provided balance to the situation. STOP the self pity. You are not worth it. You can use ho’oponopono to clear out this feeling.
Now, be the best uncle that you can be.
Eunice Krecek, CH
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