Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Shut up and learn to live without fear

Jan never ceases to amaze me. Just before she went to sleep, she shared with me some thoughts of her journey in the past two and a half months. I left convinced that she is a living parable of a life overflowing with newness. Just before I left she said in that special accent: What would you feel if you could live a full week without fear? Imagine!

I got to my daily visit late only to find that Jan was standing by the window in another room! They are doing some deep cleaning in her room and all three tenants were evicted to various places. I couldn't find the nurse to find out if this is a permanent move. She is only a couple of doors up from where she was (new room is 318?) It is a semi-private arrangement, so there is a little more privacy, and it is right in front of the washroom. We went for a walk and ended in the auditorium, in a drawing class. She made a drawing of someone looking from the sky to the sea. Her laughter added extra colour to the drawing. Shortly after, she decided to go back to her room. She said that the day had been very busy for her. She had the "funnies" on her right side. I observed the routine: getting her toothbrush, dragging the walker, a quick visit to the toilet and a face wash. Then, changing into her pajamas and getting into bed. I have learned not to assist her in these activities unless I am invited. It is one of those small areas where she can have some control in her life and she treasures it very much.

This is the point when our real conversation began. I read the story of Peter and his colleagues lending their boat to Jesus as a pulpit. Then, the inexplicable haul of fish and his reaction: I am not worthy, and the answer from the Master: "there is no reason to be afraid". Jan asked me what was I feeling right at that moment. I told her that I struggled with feelings of inadequacy, doubt, guilt, fear, frustration because I couldn't help her or do something valuable for her; I told her that, I would gladly give her my right hand... she just said: Shut up! don't you see that you are full of fear? this is exactly the kind of lies that wreck our lives, our capacity to be happy, to live freely, believing that there is no reason to feel guilt or fear. Look at me, I am not complete, but, I am not afraid. I know that this happened for a reason, and I know that I am happier now because of what I have learnt... she went on for another half an hour. At the end, I was crying because what she was saying was true: I had fallen into faulty thinking and was probably trapped in feeling sorry for myself, loosing perspective and being plainly afraid for her, for me, for us. But I was also crying because I could hear my Jan speaking exactly the way she did when I met her. Other than a few broken links in her speech, there she was, with an intact mind and a stronger spirit.

My friends, I was totally speechless. She had touched me right in the core of my soul. So effortlessly, she said, don't you realize that the best gift you could ever give me is your presence here, now. That I spend the whole day waiting for your visit? You could not buy anything that has more value than this: that you are at my side right now. What would you feel if you could live a week without fear? Will you start tomorrow? Is it a deal?

I left thankful, with a deep understanding of what is valuable in life.


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