Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I received a call this week that took me by surprise. “Knocked me for six” as the cricket expression goes.
Our next scheduled marathon was coming up and I was blindsided in the peak of training with a horrible cold. In the previous marathon Karen was injured doing yard work during the height of conditioning. And now, I opened the email that almost brought me to tears. Lyndsay was hit with a torn meniscus. We knew her knee was hurting, but we kept rationalizing it away, coming up with every reason except the real one.
I called her.
“How are you feeling?”
“What is the verdict?”
“Well, the doctor says I can run short distances and we’ll take it from there. But, there is a chance I won’t run the race.”
“Oh no.”
“But its okay. It is good to be blindsided, isn’t it?”
I am confused and glad that she can't see my face through the phone line because she would see me staring at her incredulously like she had three heads.
“Is it?” I obviously was the oldest but not the most mature in this situation.
“Yes, it helps you put things into perspective.”
Oh, that.
“I guess so.” I draw out my answer more of a question than a statement.
It doesn’t seem fair. You set your sights and state your goal, you devise a plan and stick to it. You train 6 months and something little like a cold, a slip in the yard and small tear in a ligament or a stomach bug can end the race before it begins.
The past year has been full of sidelines. Karen lost her beloved cat, Harley and we lost our dog, Hank, exactly one month later. My roommate from university is helping her husband live with an unexpected aggressive cancer and my son’s girlfriend has lost her job. In my small circle of friends and neighbours, people are dealing with family breakups, loss of jobs, deaths, suicides and sickness. And, that is only the things I know about. Who knows what silent, intimate struggles people are battling in their hearts?
One man I know, Brad and his family got some crazy news a few weeks back I am sure no one saw coming. I’ve known Brad from the moment he was born. He was a couple years my junior and his grandparents and my parents were best friends. And, although I would never classify Brad as a buddy, he was more than an acquaintance. It was one of those weird relationships that couldn’t really be pegged. We never really played together as kids, we never hung out as teenagers yet he was ‘there’. New Years, family parties, get-togethers; he was a present, like a friendly wallpaper. As our lives continued I would hear about what he was up to via his Grandmother who kept me abreast of the major landmarks in his life. I’ve never kept in touch and have seen him maybe twice since we were adults but still consider him not quite family, not exactly a friend but more than an acquaintance—a really unique grey area. Currently he lives in Southern California.
I got an email from his mother…what started out as unexplained bruising ended up being acute myelogous leukemia. Surprise!
Recovery is a real and wonderful possibility, however, I am sure it will be a long road.  Couldn’t help but be touched by one of his facebook posts:
So, here I am in the hospital with a blood-based disease (AML type M3, you can google it). From what I can tell, I’m using way more than my fair share of Platelets, one of the blood components that contributes to clotting. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to donate blood due to the disease that I have, but I’d encourage any of you, my friends and family, to strongly consider making a small trip to a donation center and giving a pint of blood.
Don’t do it because it might save my life or someone else that you know and love, do it because it might save some random stranger’s life and they’ll be grateful for the opportunity that you have given them even if your paths never cross.
Anyway, I hope this didn’t fall under the “too long didn’t read” category for too many of you, and I hope that you all are having a wonderful day today. Here in Southern California beyond the walls of my room the weather looks to be wonderful.
Enjoy the day!
I’ve done some good things in my life. Given to charities, donated time, bought Girl Guide cookies. However, I am sad to admit I have NEVER donated blood in my entire 46 years. I am a little, shall we say, squeamish about needles or anything medical for that matter. But, if I can run 42.2 km surely donating blood can’t be that bad. This is on top of my to-do list after recovering from the marathon.
Brad’s post made me think. What if we’ve got it all wrong? We think that life is setting goals, then working towards them. Plotting a course then keeping your heading. But, what if the essence of life is the obstacles and our goals are simply avenues to getting blindsided? Maybe the real accomplishments are listening to a neighbour who needs to talk, making that platter of food for a funeral, taking someone out for coffee, helping someone look for a new job, sending an encouraging text….giving blood! Maybe running marathons, getting that promotion, obtaining that certification are simply the true examples of us getting blindsided from our real purpose. If that is the case, then Lyndsay was right. Being blindsided is good.

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