Someone once said that the only sure things are "death and taxes." While those are certainly unpleasant absolutes in each of our lives, there are many more things that are "sure." All you have to do is look at the news coverage of the aftermath of the hurricane disaster in Texas. Watching "every day heroes" in the form of emergency rescue workers, neighbors and volunteers from other states, it is apparent that the human spirit is a sure thing - both in the display of compassion by those helping others and in the resiliency of those needing help. When times get rough people display passion and heart, perseverance and determination no matter the difficulty. Even more beautiful is that in the midst of tragedy, loss, hurt, sickness, disaster and even death, people come together as one. Why? Because difficulty is the great equalizer and helps us realize that there are things much bigger in life than our petty differences, our political sides, our status in life. There are no young or old, black, white or brown, rich or poor, democrat or republican when it comes to human suffering. None of us escape difficulty. If there is a "sure thing" in life it is this.. WE NEED EACH OTHER! It is that truth reflected in the faces of those devastated in this storm and in the outreached hands holding people up and carrying them through flood waters.
Throughout our lives this "sure thing" will be proven true at some point or another. We are all connected whether we choose to admit it or not and unless your heart is completely calloused over with more hate than one can imagine, the sight of another person suffering pulls at your heartstrings and you feel a sense of kinship. You not only feel compassion for their suffering, but a "survival desire" to help rescue them or at the very least be with them, comfort and soothe them through their life difficulty. You can call it compassion, mercy, pity, common sense, expediency or anything in between, but I am convinced it finds its roots in the foundation of LOVE. Every human heart has that same need and desire to both love and be loved and when a crisis of the human condition touches close to home for us in one way or another, or even when we see it on our computer or TV screens of circumstances far away - something stirs in us, something tugs at us deep inside.
If we happen to be the ones facing a crisis, that same stirring and tugging rises up in us as well. We want to survive! We want to make it through for those who love us. Love brings out another of those "sure things" - HOPE. We don't want our difficulty to cause our loved ones pain, hurt, worry, fear or sadness. How many times do you hear of situations where the last thing on a person's mind if they are facing the possibility of death, is them saying "tell my family I love them?" They don't just ask for help for themselves but are thinking of their loved ones. It is this "sure thing" in each of us that helps us do more than just exist in life or get by in survival mode. This sure thing will try to comfort the hearts of others if our outcome is that sure thing of "death" or the sure thing of HOPE will push us beyond what we might normally be physically able to do to survive and to make it through.
Recently, my grandmother's older brother passed away. Now when I say "older" understand that Maw Maw is 95! Her older brother was 98. At that phase in life, "death" is one of those sure things that one quite naturally thinks about more often. I drove over to see her after hearing the news. She was sitting in her familiar spot in the recliner with her feet propped up on a footstool. I hugged her, kissed her on the cheek then bent down to talk to her. As I looked up in her eyes while the tears formed and the weariness of her heart began to escape through her lips, my body melted along with my heart. I sat down in the floor, put my hand on her knee and listened as she shared her grief with me. She's always been so full of life no matter how she felt physically, mentally or emotionally. Even after my sweet Paw Paw passed as well as her youngest daughter Aunt Betty who passed away from cancer, Maw Maw was a reservoir of encouragement and hope for all of us. Maw Maw is a fighter, a survivor, and a beacon of love and hope. This day though, she said something that broke my heart. Her body is failing her to the point to where walking around, standing and sitting without assistance is difficult. As I looked up at her while she shared some of her grief in soft spoken tones, she said "I'm tired." I knew she didn't just mean physically. She had lost another one of her generation that she loved, her body didn't have the strength and energy - mentally and emotionally, and all of it was heavy to deal with. I didn't have any words really, but having me sit at her feet sharing in her grief somehow brought comfort to her.
When things change as they inevitably will, there are "sure things" we can't avoid, but I have confidence that the "sure things" that we can provide will rise to the occasion. A couple of months ago, my sweet friend lost his father after a long period of chronic illness. I felt so helpless. I wanted to say something, do something and help in someway both him and his mother. The night that he passed, I was sitting alone and a song that I used to sing was ringing in my ears. I couldn't get away from it. I had no idea where my music CD was so I turned my phone on and recorded it accapella - just my voice, a camera phone and a broken heart. His dad was hanging between life and death and I had no words! I felt compelled to sing since those were the only words that would come. I recorded it and sent it. Ten minutes later my friend sent me a message telling me that his father was gone. At the exact moment I sent the song, this precious man had passed away. You can call it coincidence, divine direction, serendipity or whatever you choose to call it, but it is that kinship of heart and spirit that allows us to feel what others are feeling and be moved by what others are experiencing. These are the "sure things" that I am grateful exists beyond "death and taxes."
Even when we want to stay strong for ourselves and one another to the point of never letting anyone see our tears, hurts, grief or struggles, even when we try to be independent and even sometimes combative when we disagree in life over things, the truth is, we are connected - ALL of us. We do need each other and we have something that can and should benefit the life of another. The stories of Hurricane Harvey in Texas perfectly encapsulate what that something is. JUST BE THERE! Can you imagine the fate of all the people there if no one helped anyone else? If the rest of the world sat back and watched? If family members didn't huddle close and cry together or tell stories to get their minds off of what was ahead? And what about your life and my life? What if there were no granddaughters to sit at the feet of an elderly "angel" or no grandmothers, parents, siblings, children, companions, friends or neighbors to be there for one another during the most difficult times of life? What if there were no sons to hold their daddy's hand as the angels came to carry him from this life to the next? Or to remain here to hold their mother close when everything around her closes in or comes at her from all sides? I have a million "what ifs" and so do you. We need each other, we are connected. That is a sure thing.