What Are The Hidden Gifts of Illness?
Do you ever wonder if it is possible to discover gifts in illness?
Let me share a story with you…
A Tale of Two Sisters
Once upon a time…
There were two sisters, the younger and the older.
They lived in a cozy home with their mom and dad, a cat and dog, a garden and pool out back.
The room they shared fostered ‘sister secrets’, frustrations, giggles, annoyances, and celebrations, often all in one day, and sometimes even within an hour.
Their days were spent supporting and comforting one another; tormenting one another to no end, then banding together against anyone who dared torment either one of them, as only sisters can; and honing their negotiating skills with regard to bedroom space, phone time and attention, just to name a few.
They were living - what seemed to them - an ordinary, everyday life.
Eventually the older one left home to pursue her dreams of independence. Shortly after the younger did the same.
In their independence they grew further and further apart; not only physically, but emotionally as well. Such things as secrets, frustrations, giggles, annoyances and celebrations they once shared with each other (or provided for one another) were now shared with different people.
And as time continued to move along its merry way, the sisters’ lives continued to diverge along paths that rarely ever crossed, until one day it seemed like a fairy tale that the older one had ever had a sister known as the ”younger”.
Many years passed by, during which momentous family events occasionally threw the two sisters together again.
At these times, the older one caught fleeting glimpses in the depths of her mind of that sister-relationship she had had, once upon a time. And just as she thought that relationship might spring to life again, poof! Back it faded, to be stored away for perhaps another time.
But that was okay.
The older one did not depend on the younger as she used to, and vice versa.
All was well in their respective worlds because they had each created fulfilling, vibrant lives for themselves.
Now, it so happened…
During this time of disconnection, Illness visited the younger sister.
Illness’ presence was not so overt or life-changing at first. It took up little space and required little effort. The younger sister was strong and determined to be healthy, so the two existed, sharing a body, with no one the wiser.
However, as can be the case, some visitors forget they are visitors.
Illness slowly began to move right in, taking over more space, requiring more effort from the younger one, and claiming aspects of her for its own.
It was at this point that the younger one chose to divert her path once more, taking shortcuts and knocking obstacles out of her way as she pressed onward to meet up with the path of the older sister.
From out of the blue, the older one heard the younger’s call and, with some initial disbelief yet without a thought, diverted her path to meet up with the younger.
Just like in a fairy tale when the princess comes back to life, so too did this sister relationship.
Sure, a few kinks needed to be worked out and acclimation required, but the sisters once again had each other for support, comfort, torment, and negotiation.
No matter how many years had passed by, connections lost or opportunities missed, they were together now.
Their paths met up and ran alongside each other, each having experienced much in their years detached; bringing their developed strengths, vulnerabilities, and perspectives to this renewed relationship that would deepen their bond in ways not previously possible.
Their common nemesis was Illness, and they banded together to navigate its curveballs as only sisters can do.
The more that Illness took away from the younger one’s body, the more love and memories Illness gave to both of their hearts.
The stronger and more stubborn Illness grew, the stronger and more clearly the older sister advocated for the younger’s well-being and highest good by researching and learning about treatment, rehab and care options.
The more Illness deteriorated the younger’s abilities, the more comfortable the younger became at expressing what was in her heart.
The uproar that Illness caused in the sisters’ minds nurtured a serenity in their souls.
The two were inseparable.
The older one took advantage of any moment she could to spend time with the younger; listening, laughing together, crying together, being at peace with the younger.
Circumstances in the older sister’s life had created this opportunity for her to be there for the younger one now. At another time in the older one’s life she would not have had the flexibility or ability to devote such time to the younger.
Circumstances in the younger sister’s life had created this opportunity for her to reach within herself to remember familial love, to reach out to others, and to reach back in time to reignite relationships and strengthen connections.
Circumstances that, had they not aligned, might never have brought the two sisters back together in this physical world in such a powerful, beautiful way.
In the end, one could argue that Illness gave more than it took.
Yes, it took the life of the younger sister, and that is a huge loss and weight to bear.
But it also gave heart, soul and time to a previously non-existent relationship, bestowing a lasting gift to two sisters…each other.
And their thriving connection lived on, joyfully forever after.
If the sun is shining, my Crosstrek is calling me to fill up her tank, throw open her sunroof, and head for the back-roads. With wind in my hair, I smile at everyone I see. Grace smiles back at me (even through the trees).