Last week I had a shitty week. A shit-tay, shit-tay week indeed.
First of all, I was as sick as I’ve have been in a long time. Besides the time I had the swine flu (remember the swine flu!?!) this is the worst I’ve ever felt. Achy AF, sore throat, nasty cough, runny nose, the works. I was a real peach. And as a sudden sickness usually does, this one came on at the worst possible time. Not only did it ruin a perfectly good trip to NYC, but this is the busiest time of the year at my job, and I really did not have time to be sick. But sick I was.
And then they came — the dreaded, awful, WHY MEs!?
Why did I have to get sick now when I have a mountain of work? Why did my trip have to be ruined? Why did I get a parking ticket and a flat tire at the same time? Why did I have to feel THIS bad? WHY ME?
I threw myself a pity party of epic proportion. Everyone was invited. No one showed up but Birdie.
I spent nearly a week in bed feeling sorry for myself. Every time I coughed my disgusting cough, I moaned. Every time I sneezed, I whimpered. I even started to tear up at the doctor’s office when they took blood because I thought I may faint. I was a sorry sonofabitch.
After taking another swig of my almost-lethal cough medicine one night — this stuff was so strong you could smell it from a mile away — I tucked myself back into bed and began to think. Thinking is a powerful thing. I barked another gross cough and recalled a story I think of from time to time.
When I was in high school, a friend of mine had a little sister who was diagnosed with cancer. She was 13 when diagnosed. The cancer spread throughout her tiny body so quickly and so aggressively that even the strongest of chemotherapy couldn’t quell her cancer, and she died. It was terribly, horribly, painfully sad. Still is. I can’t even imagine the pain the family went through. The looks on their faces at the funeral was something I will never forget. But before she passed away, she was a part of the Make a Wish program, and her wish was to raise enough money so that all the other Make a Wish kids’ wishes in the Charlotte area would be granted.
Let’s pause on this for a second.
A child with cancer wanted all the other children with cancer to have their wishes granted. That would make her happy. Her heart was so full and so grateful that she wanted to share her love with others, making their hearts full too. She used her situation to benefit others, and the impact she had was powerful. Giving without abandon, without thought of yourself — that is the true meaning of selflessness. If given the chance to do anything in the world, would you make that same choice? Would you choose giving to others over meeting your favorite celebrity, or going to Disneyworld, or taking a once in a lifetime trip? I cannot honestly say I would. But this little girl did. She made the choice to think big and love big, and never once did she say, Why me?
Whenever I’m feeling particularly sorry for myself, I often think of this little girl. And she gives me something too — Perspective. Perspective and I have been speaking different languages for a few days now.
I share this story with you in the event you have a case of the Why Mes. It’s only human for us to feel sorry for ourselves from time to time, but it’s how we rise above these feelings that makes the difference.
After thinking about this little girl, I then made a list of 10 things I’m grateful for. This is something my sister says she does sometimes to re-calibrate her thinking and to realize just how lucky she is. Here’s what I came up with:
- My roomies, Wilson & Birdie
- My family
- My friends, near and far
- Ear plugs
- My health
- Trashy reality TV
- Living in the USA
- The pumpkin bread my mom made me
- My job
- Good chapstick
Obviously not all of these are as serious as others, and they aren’t necessarily in order (sometimes ear plugs are first, quite frankly) but these were things I was grateful for a that moment. And then my old friend returned — Gratitude. Good to see you ol’ chap.
Life is unexpected, and changing, and, at times, challenging. But my little slice turns out to be quite sweet, running nose and disgusting cough included. And on this Veteran’s Day, I’d like to add one more thing I’m very, very grateful for — the service men and women who have made and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice so that I can have those 10 things for which I’m grateful. Thank you. Home of the free, because of the brave.
Make your list of 10 things. You’ll probably realize you have many more than just 10.