I started a journal the week Lisa was diagnosed. It will be a significant part of the book I’m slowly trying to piece together.
I was reading through some of my entries recently and ran across this short paragraph dated 9/21/10:
It’s 11:36 pm – I was headed to the shower. Got a glance of myself in the full length mirror. Stopped. Grabbed my journal. Looking at myself, what do I see? Who am I now? Who am I becoming? I see – greater strength than ever before, physically stronger – emotionally stronger; a man who looks every bit of his 45 years here on earth and that used to not be the case. A man wearing an old pair of reading glasses found around the house – maybe my grandfather’s. A hollowness deep in those big brown eyes; maturity and newfound wisdom; a lack of innocence; deeper creases surrounding the mouth. Look deeper, deeper, what do you see? Perhaps a stronger faith growing within.
The phrase that whacks me in the head as I look back on my writing is “a lack of innocence.” Can a 40 plus year old man have an innocence about him? I used to.
I was having a conversation with a friend this week and she said, “You lived a charmed life.” She was right. And I’d like that life back.
I had no idea how deeply someone could hurt. I couldn’t comprehend loss or grief. I didn’t know what it was like to truly be scared or anxious or to have a mind that raced so hard you could not stop it.
But accompanying this loss of innocence is a loss of judging others. And perhaps it brings with it a deeper understanding and empathy for what people may be going through.
I didn’t mind being innocent. It was kind of nice. But maybe having to face the realization that life is tough has really made me a better person in some ways. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all gain that wisdom, that acceptance of others and desire to know what someone might be facing before making assumptions? And wouldn’t it be nice to figure that out without going through hell here on earth?
If I had it to do again, during my first forty years I think I’d try harder to love others for who they were and try more earnestly to understand them. You never know the baggage people are carrying. Circumstances can change folks; they certainly changed me.