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Facts of Life

The sky was beautiful last night. It was so pretty that I stepped outside on my balcony and snapped a couple of pictures.

I’ve been lucky enough to live in some places that had remarkable sunsets. They were so beautiful that I’ve grown to take the ones in Greenville for granted. The ones in Charleston qualified as a driving hazard. I'd be looking back towards downtown from the James Island Connector, the sky on fire. I'm sure that would be enough to give any insurance agent a heart attack. The ones in New York City were magical as well. The whole city became the color of the sun. That’s the only way I know to describe it. The sunset just washed the entire city, all five boroughs, with its pink, orange glow.

Last night, the sunset in Greenville had echos of those earlier towns. And it happened so late. Since we are in the very end of the Vernal Equinox, it’s still light until after 9 p. m. On Saturday night sat my parents cooked out and made a fire pit and we socially distanced in their drive way and watched the sunset from there. Last night I got to see the show from my balcony.

All in all, it was a great weekend. One that I was glad to be a part of.

At the same time, however, the right side of my face is numb! And the corresponding eye is super blurry. It’s that way constantly now. It’s a side effect of the radiation, which means, it’s now just a fact of my life, something I have to deal with. Now I’ve had other, way more painful things I’ve had to deal with during these past three years. This is more of an annoyance really. But the thing is, it's always with me. The unbearable pain in my hips and my back in March—that was with me all the time too. And while that was way worse, the peak was only six days. This has now been going on for a full three months and, according to my doctor, won’t get much better.

So it looks like this eye/face thing is what it is. I've always hated that saying. Now I hate it even more. But since it is, in fact, what it is, I’ve got to start looking at it from a different perspective. Since it’s from the radiation, one could say this is my cost of doing business. It’s why I’m alive. It’s why I could enjoy the magical sunset of Sunday night in the first place.

In theory, I should be thanking this numbness and loss of vision. At the very least, finding ways to appreciate it.

One of the things I’m most thankful for is how what I have has connected me to other people. I am not alone in having conditions for living. It could diabetes or arthritis or any other chronic condition we humans suffer from. “The thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” We all have something. And if we don’t, we’re gonna. It’s just a matter of time.

Or maybe it’s depression. Or their family falling apart. Or they’re grieving. But there they are, looking at the sun set. Appreciating it the best they can.

Throughout the course of this blog I’ve talked about my priest from childhood— Father Nick, or Quick Nick we liked to call him. We called him that because he services were over in forty-five minutes as opposed to an hour. Because of that, he had something of a dedicated following. As the diocese would move him around the upstate, parishioners would move as well. Having four kids, my parents understood the difference fifteen minutes made.

Father Nick had four homilies, and her repeated them in a loop. Which I think was good, because a couple of his lessons actually crept through my teenage brain. One the four was called “You Only Pick Up Your Cross to Pick Up a Heavier One.” What that meant is pretty self-explanatory. It’s really hit home to me during this time. Yes, I have things I can complain about. But we all suffer. We all have a cross. Right now, mine is my face. And my eye. And my nausea, and the fact that no food sounds good to me at all. But having a cross to bear doesn’t make me alone in the world. In fact, it makes me part of it. If this is what I have to bear to see sunsets like I did last night, then all I can say is than God the “yoke is easy. The burden is light.”

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