The Little Things

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

As I’m sitting criss-cross on my bed, my cats curl up beside me, purring quietly. There’s music playing in the background softly, the melodious kind that floats through the air. It’s so calming that eventually I don’t realize there’s music playing at all. My door is closed and the only sound aside from my music is the rumbling of the air conditioning unit outside of my window. For the most part my room is picked up; the only item out of place is a pair of sneakers in the middle of the floor that I had thrown off as soon as I returned home. For the first time since my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I’m able to reflect on the positive rather than the negative–what to glean from the experience, what lessons to carry on with me.I’m grateful for a clear mind; no lingering fear penetrates the calm, nor do unfinished responsibilities worry me. Thoughts of whether my mom would make it through this recent chemo treatment don’t interrupt the full breath in. My mental checklist, “dishes-geometry-vacuum-cookdinner-readchapter15-englishessay-shower-checkonmom-sleep”, doesn’t repeat itself in my head in monotonous rhythm as my lungs deflate and the breath escapes into the room. Nothing. The serenity feels so unfamiliar, but I welcome it as an old friend.I’m grateful for the ability to give big bear hugs. Nowadays, I can walk up to my mom and fully encase myself in her warmth and love. Until a year ago, she was too weak for even a flimsy one-armed hug. First it was her chemo, making her nauseous all the time. With no break, the radiation made her skin tender to the touch, fresh with burns. Over the next year and a half, multiple surgeries left her body bruised and sore. Being able to say “I love you” means the world, but being able to physically show that love through a strong embrace means so much more.I’m grateful for tears. William Faulkner once said, “Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.” The pain of seeing my mother struggle through breast cancer and the stress it placed on me personally was difficult to get through, but my life would not be as fulfilled and my appreciation of the little things in life not as great if I hadn’t fought my way through it to the other side.

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