The person I admire most was born with an incurable disease. Her life expectancy was 18 years, her only hope of surviving was a heart and lung transplant. Throughout her childhood and teenage years she became increasingly ill, missing school, unable to go out with friends, gradually becoming confined to bed, fighting for breath with the help of an oxygen machine.
It was my enormous privilege to see at first hand how someone can simultaneously accept and fight and the amazing outcome that can have. She looked her illness full in the face. She knew what she had and what her prognosis was. She did not waste one jot of her precious energy in anger at her situation or asking ‘why me?’. Instead she put everything that she had into living. From her hospital bed she studied for exams and laughed with her friends, she raised money for charity, she found joy in every single thing that she did.
Last year we celebrated her 40th birthday. And, the year before that, her PhD.
There are situations and there are things that happen over which we have no control. What we do have control over is the meaning we allow those things to have in our lives. This is not about blind positive thinking, avoiding facing up to a situation by insisting ‘everything will be alright’. Repressing something only gives it more power. It is about complete acceptance and presence, acknowledgement and recognition and then taking a decision for ourselves about how we will live.