Is It, Simply A Matter Of Choice? By Cookie

The million dollar question today is:

How do we cope?

Is it decided by genetics?

Is it something we learn?

Why are some of us optimistic and some pessimist?

Why are some grateful and some bitter?

What makes us different, but yet the same?

What is it inside of us that determines how we cope with life,  illnesses, tragedies, death or simple every day problems?

Many of us will go through life never knowing the answer to that question, some of us will know the exact moment when we are given the answer.

For as long as I can remember, my mother had a Serenity prayer tapestry that my aunt Judy made especially for her, hanging on the kitchen wall. The sitting arrangements at the dining room table made it visible to me during our meal times. I can’t tell you how many times I read it while living at home; even now a copy of that prayer is never far from me.

It wouldn’t be until later in my life after many challenges and tragedies that I would come to truly understand the wisdom of those words, this prayer has been instrumental in teaching me how to “live” my life, giving me the strength to cope with whatever fate may bring my way.

One of the most valuable life lessons I experienced was during my youth. I met a young girl named Diana when I was young; she had been diagnosed with cancer when she was 8 years old. She had to have her leg amputated when she was 12 years old. We became best friends, inseparable.

Life was cruel to her, people were cruel to her, and cancer was cruel to her. She touched a place so deep inside of me that I was never the same. My friendship with her taught me compassion, sympathy, understanding and most of all acceptance.

There were times I had  to fight or defend myself because I was her friend. I learned people were prejudice, ignorant and superficial. My friendship with her cost me a lot but was worth more than I had lost. She taught me unconditional love and the value of a person and to find blessings in everything. She was amazing and wise beyond her years.

A few days before her death, she took a turn for the worse and it was horrible to watch. Seizures and convulsions over took her body, and my boyfriend, Ronnie ( my husband)  in his need to protect me took me away from the hospital. After threatening to jump out of the car, he took me back.

When we stepped off the elevator, her father greeted me, saying she is asking for you. I walked into that room to see my best friend close to death, smile at me with love and warmth, and when I took her hand and stood beside her, I bent down and kissed her forehead. She whispered,” you are better than morphine; I feel no pain or fear when you are near.” I had been praying for months for God to heal her, that night I asked for the serenity to accept the things I could not change.

She died the next day. I lost all faith in God and became angry and bitter. I hated those who thought my grieving was an act or that I would get over it. My heart was broken. My soul was shattered. I didn’t have the support system needed to cope with this. I didn’t have the faith to continue to live without bitterness. I hated myself for being alive.

I struggled for months trying to understand, why? I asked my preacher over and over how God could allow her to suffer and die. No answer was forthcoming. I hated the person I was becoming. I was bitter, angry, devastated and lost. No one could comfort or help me to understand.

My granny Irene, came to visit, I adored her. She taught me so many things, to crochet, quilt and do crafts. She sat beside me and asked, “How are you doing child?” I knew what she was asking, and the tears and emotion was so thick I couldn’t speak. We sat there quietly for a long time.

Finally she asked me the question, I will never forget. “Cookie, do you wish Diana had never died?” I whipped my head around so fast and stared at her as if she had grown 3 heads. I said, “You’re kidding, right?”

She stared at me long and hard and whispered no. I was so mad that she would ask such a stupid question and with hatred in my heart, not toward her, but life and everything about it. I screamed, ” YES I WISH SHE HAD NEVER DIED!”

She waited for my pain to ease and quietly said to me, “That’s  a shame child, because that means you would’ve never known her.”

Now that caught my attention.

I said, “What do you mean?”

Then she said the words that would forever change my life.

” For whatever reason or purpose Diana had, she was only meant to live sixteen years. Everyone will leave this earth. Some are here longer than others, but when our time is up, it’s up, unless of course you take your own life. So in order for you not to be hurting over Diana’s death means you would’ve never had her in your life, because that was her destiny.”

I sat there in silence listening to what she was saying.

” Cookie, life is simple; there is a season for everything. If you never have sorrow you will never appreciate joy. If you change the bad things that have happened in your life and wish them away, then your life changes and if your life changes there is no guarantee that the blessings and joys you have had would be the same. Remember always good things sometimes happen to bad people and bad things sometimes happens to good people. It’s the way life is sometimes.”  She got up, kissed me on the top of my head and left me there to think.

I sat there on the back porch for many hours and then finally went inside. Later that night I made a promise to myself at the age of seventeen. That I would ask for courage and faith to help me through the hard times of my life. That I would ask for strength and guidance to change the things I would be able to.  That I would appreciate the beauty in the sunrise and in everything I see. I promised that I would do my best to never question any situation and try to turn it into something positive. I promised I wouldn’t take my blessing for granted and that I would never pray for anyone to live, that I would not question fate.

That promise has been tested over and over, in more tragedies and cruelties than most people will ever see in three lifetimes.

I often say I have the worse luck of anyone you will ever know but I am the most blessed person you will ever meet. It has been a challenge to keep that promise and it’s something that hasn’t come easily. But it’s my way of life and how I raised my daughter. Maybe it’s because of the life that I’ve been blessed with that I can feel this way. I know most would say the life I was cursed with, but I honestly don’t feel that way.

Often time’s people will ask, “Aren’t you bitter, or at least angry?” I’m always quick to say, “How can I be? I was never promised anything.” Honestly how can any of us be bitter about something we were never promised or guaranteed to have? I don’t remember reading a contract when I was born saying that I would be 5 ft 6 inches, 120 pounds, blonde hair, blue eyes and healthy till the day I died. We aren’t promised or guaranteed anything, and everything we have is a blessing.

It’s  sad to watch people waste their lives wishing things were different.

Change what you are able to change.

Accept and make the most out of what you aren’t able to change.

I watch people spend their lives, being bitter and wishing for this and that.

Never paying attention to what they have in their lives at this moment.

I have learned to cope with Ankylosing Spondylitis in the same way.

I am thankful that I didn’t just wake up this way and that it was a gradual process making it easier to adjust to over the years.

Until you make peace with who you are , you will never be content with what  you have.

How do I  cope?

It is, simply a matter of choice.


6 Responses to “Is It, Simply A Matter Of Choice? By Cookie”

  1. Such wisdom my friend xxx

  2. Diane Scribe Niiganii Says:

    That is just beautiful Cookie. My dad gave me a small ornament that had the serenity prayer on it when I was 15. It is the only thing I have of him. Someone had given it to him on his travels during his final years working. It was the first time I had seen it. I didn’t realize until I read your blog how much it had an effect on me. Thank you for reminding me of that special gift he gave me. While it is packed away for now (we have been trying to move for a year), I always remember it and think of him when I read it anywhere. It is the best gift someone could give me during this season. You reminded me how close he is to me all the time. Thank you so much for that. Love you lots my friend ❤

  3. Dear Diane, Thank you so much for your beautiful words. It is funny how such simple things mean the most to you, that change your lives. I am blessed to remind you of something beautiful and important in your life, just as you do for me. Love you too my friend.

  4. A wonderful post that made me sit and think for quite awhile. Thank You.

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