Serially Lost: Part Three

writing-101

Day Sixteen: Third Time’s the Charm

Today’s Prompt: Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

For inspiration, ponder the phrase “lost and found.” What do you think about or visualize when you read this phrase? For an elementary schooler, it might be a box in their classroom, full of forgotten jackets and random toys. For a frequent traveler, it might be a facility in an airport, packed with lost phones, abandoned bags, and misplaced items.

On day four, you wrote about losing something. On day thirteen, you then wrote about finding something. So, today’s twist: If you’d like to continue our serial challenge, also reflect on the theme of lost and found more generally in this post.

By the end of Writing 101, you’ll have multiple posts around a theme; material you could thread together in a longform piece.

Questions to think about as you write your post:
What have you learned about loss over the years?
What does it feel like to find an object that was once important to you?
When can reconnecting go horribly wrong?
When are things better left buried and forgotten?
In your “lost and found” tale, tell us something larger — a life lesson, perhaps — about finding and losing something.

I’m continuing my series of posts about losses.

The ones I told you before: Divorce. Death. Dismissal.

Today it’s about death. My younger brother died three years ago from soft tissue sarcoma cancer.
It’s somehow a lucky coincidence, that I’m at this very moment writing from a hospital.
I’m waiting for a friend, who will undergo breast cancer surgery.

I left home early this morning, briefly watching the sun rising. Good vibes from nature to brighten a tough day ahead of my friend. I headed to her house to bring her to the hospital, a place that became so familiar after four consecutive years of my brother’s treatment.

We crossed the wide and long corridors leading to the different wards, until we reached the designated floor to report her arrival to the nurses. Pre-operation duties started with basic questions, vital signs checks, change of clothes.

We were asked to move to another room where three other patients recovered. The patients’ faces letting many emotions come openly to the surface. Pain, uncertainty, hope, acceptance…
The nurses ever so careful, attentive and kind, bring smiles and melodious voices to an sterile room.

For a non patient, this scene is most of the times difficult to bear.
It’s confrontational. It’s a mirror we don’t like to look at. We don’t want ever to be in a room like that, nor those we love. Once you have repeatedly been there, you don’t feel that punch in the stomach anymore, except for that you still wish you, and yours, won’t ever need to be there.

It’s humanizing to experience other people’s struggles. It’s humbling.
We cannot miss this opportunity to put our-little-selves into perspective.
What are our worries, how important are they?
It’s a time to make things relative to what they really are, and stop exaggerating their worth disproportionally.

What are the questions we ask ourselves everyday? What’s that question you’re asking yourself now, if you related to any of the losses I mentioned?

Stop and think about this: my friend was asked, amongst other things, if she wished to be reanimated in case of a cardiac arrest. She was clearly distraught with the question, which in short says: do you want or not to live.

This is a relevant question, perhaps the only one that maters to all of us.

We spend far too much time entertaining the ‘how-we-live’ questions and dilemmas.
Being alive or not. That, matters.
From life to death, we go through peaks and valleys.
How about enjoying the ride and focusing on the panoramic views instead of inwards looking and searching for certainties that are outside our reach and control?

That’s my lesson number one.

I’m not afraid of being here. I’m not thinking of the worse. I’m wishing for her full recovery from this battle. These are my thoughts as I walk behind her bed being pulled by two nurses to the operating room. I wish my friend well and for her to enjoy the high with the anesthesia.

While sipping a latte I observe the people around me in the coffee shop. There is a very elegant elderly lady though, greeting and smiling at everyone who arrives. After drinking her coffee I see that she walks to the lobby and leaves the hospital premises. People like that are like sun rays, spreading warmth where they pass.
I wonder who she is.

I moved to the silent reception area of the operating rooms.
Every minute there is a nurse or doctor coming by and greeting me with big smiles.
I wondered if all smiles are an early morning effect, free from stress, or are they just so friendly.
People (who love) working with health care, they care…and they look at others with more compassion. They seem to feel what you feel. They see death and life coming and going everyday. They may place more value to it than what we normally do.

Patients eyes say even more. They say I need no pity. Treat me normally, I’m not dead. Don’t fear, I’m ok. Cry when I’m not here, don’t ever lose hope. I haven’t given up.
Think about this: No one with cancer, any other disease or even just going through a difficult period, for whatever reason, need our pity.
They need strength, and hope. They need to believe they belong here, they are still with us. There isn’t anything more condescending than to look down at people, as if they are less, impaired, impotent. Don’t take their faith away from them, even if that’s all that’s left. It’s not our right to do that.

That is my lesson number two.

Listening is a precious skill. Reading between the lines too. We tend to interpret how other people feel. We assume too much. And with all of the best intentions, we may give unsolicited advise or even share all stories we know from people with similar problems.
In fact, the patient knows better than us, as we haven’t been there where they stand now.
We can’t measure other people’s suffering threshold, using our references. We may imply that they can’t and won’t make it, if we try to minimize what they say, intending for them to feel better. We may make them feel worse if we maximize their fears and concerns. Listen to them; that’s all they need. Don’t answer what you’re not asked. Don’t diagnose and prescribe solutions. We are not the doctors.
It’s both demeaning and defeating.

That’s my lesson number three.

My friend just got back from the operating room and all went well.
I was allowed in for a few minutes and witnessed the routine tasks during an early morning at a surgery ward. Drowsy faces waking up, wishing each other a better day, inquiring about their progress.

An old lady shares her story. She is a tourist in Amsterdam, who broke her pelvic bone in the first days of vacations. She has been confined to two weeks in a hospital bed. Change of plans. Vacations are no longer in sight. She is undergoing tremendous pain but she is still cheerful and chatty. And she says: “It’s a pity I tripped over my feet and that accident happened, but it could have been much worse.”

My friend looked at me and said, “my situation could have been worse too”.
I thought of her facial expression earlier, when having to decide to be or not reanimated.
She’s alive, that’s what matters. Remember that? But it could have been worse.

That’s my lesson number four.

While in the midst of our problems, we tend to think a lot about it. Feeding it like a hungry beast and consuming ourselves with fear. What helps overcoming problems or speeding up recovery, is not how much miserable we feel, but how least attention we give to it.
We are better off by not branding ourselves as ‘the problem” or ‘the disease’. We are not the disease. Unless we gave in to fighting back.

That’s my lesson number five.

I haven’t told you yet about my brother’s passing.
It has been over three years, and I miss him since the day he passed, and as much as I will always love and miss him.

What is important to share now, is what I learnt from his experience. That’s what helps me being here with my friend, prepared to be here for her, as she needs.

The ‘lessons’ I mentioned above, are some of the many I learned from him and his experience with cancer. I’m not saying that it is easy nor that I’m now perfectly knowing how to behave correctly, when once more being at a hospital with a cancer patient.

As long as I care for others, I try to give what I know best, to help them feel better. I have the choice to ponder though. So next time think of them first, and on how they may feel. Wait for their directions. Listen. Reflect. Slow down.

You will be surprised to discover how much their experience can teach you about the way you think and see the world.

We can never help anyone, if we don’t know ourselves well enough and are happy within our skin. When we are able to differentiate ‘I’ from ‘YOU’, we find the way to people’s hearts. Because just like you and me, when in distress, all they want is simply love.

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Sharing sights & insights captured with diverse angles. Ex-corporate slave, now my own boss. Cycling, hiking, cooking, reading, yoga, writing and photography, are no longer only hobbies listed on my resume. It's what I do, when I want.

42 thoughts on “Serially Lost: Part Three

      1. I read them as words of wisdom and I found them to be quite inspiring. I think that writing about those moments that feel most real to us can offer up some of the best teaching moments, regardless of whether we realize it or not.

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  1. Beautiful…simple and insightful!
    How we go through life learning lesson after lesson but sometimes forget to apply them to our own challenges!
    Just loved it!

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    1. Thank you so much, Becky.
      Well, if I let it flow freely, I can both talk and write many words, which I know are not all necessary to make my point. Since I started blogging, I have learned to be more concise and write shower posts.
      I wrote this one at the hospital and didn’t edit it. After reading it at home, I saw I had typos, repeated word, etc. which I corrected. But I didn’t reduce the size of the post. Those were my perhaps convoluted thoughts, and I will let them live…;-)
      If they reach some hearts, then I am happy too.
      Thanks. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Lucile, dear…..
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and your thoughts with us…
    What I notice is your incredible wisdom , not so common in young people like you…
    A big hug ,
    A.

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    1. Hello my dear A.!
      You are most welcome. I thank you, for your ongoing support and encouragement. Words like yours are very inspiring. I’m humbled by them.
      As I said above to Britta, I don’t think I’m wise. Maybe I have just tasted some taxing aspects of life and made enough mistakes to learn a bit from them. That’s what I share with you.
      Thank you. A big hug back at you.
      Lucile

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  3. Those are some very important lessons. I lost my brother a few years ago and it had a profound impact on me, and I learned some of the lessons you were able to articulate so well in this post.

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    1. Thank you for reading and sharing your experience with me. I appreciate it immensely.
      I’m sorry to hear you also lost your brother. I absolutely can imagine what profound impact it had on you.
      Warm regards,
      Lucile

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your sensitivity to others is beautiful, Lucile: I feel touched and convicted and inspired by your words. You made me feel as if I were with you in the hospital, supporting and encouraging and waiting and, so importantly, listening. Glad I happened upon this post!

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    1. How wonderful to see you here, Sandi. Have missed our ‘chats’! Hope you come back soon to blogging and bringing also your great photos.
      Heartfelt thanks for your considerate words. I am grateful and overwhelmed. It means a lot to me. ❤
      Lucile

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lucile, this really was powerful. You have had to deal with some extremely hard blows. No doubt the hospital scene would have brought out a flood of memories, which led to the writing this beautiful piece.

    Hard as they are, we do learn and grow from our experiences, and are able to reach out to others in compassion during their time of need.

    Thank you for sharing these 5 lessons. Points I need to be reminded of, time and time again.

    I somehow missed hearing of you losing your brother earlier, and I am so sincerely sorry for your loss my friend. Please take care!

    ~Carl~ ❤

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    1. Dear friend Carl,

      Your words are always inspiring, heartwarming and considerate. I am grateful and happy for deserving your precious time and kindness.

      Experience is indeed the best teacher, and it is pointless to expect only good moments to happen to us. I am grateful for my mistakes and their recurrences,

      My brother passing was 3 years ago, so you couldn’t have known about. Thank you for your compassion.

      Warm regards,
      Lucile ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I just finished reading your ‘loss’ series, and you generated much thought in me. I have a few drafts I’ve worked on these last few months and I’m feeling like I may be able to finally put some finishing touches on one of them and hit publish. In fact, I believe it was a writers quote you shared that got me started on it in the first place. “Life is going on, despite everything, life is going on” was the quote. I find you very inspiring when it comes to my writing. I should not stay away so long. Thank you, Lucile. I’m putting forth positivity for your friend and for you. March 31 marked 7 years since one of my dearest friends lost her battle with cancer. My dad’s throat cancer is gone since treatment, but the spot on his lung is growing.

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    1. Hello my dear, what a lovely surprise to find you visiting my ‘house’! Feel welcome and come back more often as it is a pleasure to have you around.
      I am looking forward to reading your ‘drafts’. Great to hear that one of the quotes I published has provided the inspiration for that. Keep going and hit publish.
      Thank you so much for your consideration. I will surely pass on your wishes to my friend.
      I am happy to hear that the throat cancer of your dad is gone. Is he undergoing surgery and chemo for the lungs? I wish him all the best and above all that once more he wins the battle against cancer.
      And heartfelt thanks for being such a great supporter of my ramblings.
      Warm regards,
      Lucile

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      1. Hi Lucile, always good to stop by for a visit. It’s comfortable here.
        Dad will be going for his next scan in June, we’ll know more about how they will want to proceed. I don’t believe surgery will be an option, too risky to go under with his health. There are other health issues besides cancer.
        One more thing, how could I not support a fellow rambler!?!

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        1. Great to hear you feel comfortable here.
          I’m sending all positive thoughts to your father. Whatever procedure the docs decide to follow, I truly hope he won’t be subject to more suffering.
          Keep strong.
          Thank you so much, fellow rambler!
          Hugs!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Nothing is pale in our individual journeys, Lia. And these other situations I mentioned serve only to remind us that we shouldn’t give too much importance to our worries.
      I hope you got in time at work and will come back home not too stressed.
      Have a lovely day!
      Warm regards,
      Lucile

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t have the words to express how beautiful and heartfelt this post is, Lucille. It hits home with me as my family has had far too many bouts of hospital stays and waiting rooms full of worry and hope. I am very blessed to not have been the recipient of the hospital/medical care, thank goodness, and am very healthy. But it can be scary and stressful during the wait. My thoughts and positive vibes to your friend~

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    1. Thank you, Schuttzie. Reading your warm and insightful comments make me always very happy.
      Your surely have seen a lot and can relate to this post. I’m glad to learn you were not the recipient of the care.
      Thanks for the vibes and care. She’s doing fine at home.
      Have a lovely weekend.
      Lucile

      Liked by 1 person

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