Readers of my memoir find out early on in my love story why I consider St. Patrick’s Day 1990 one of the worst days of my life. So it may come as no surprise that since then I never touch a drop of alcohol on St. Patrick’s Day. I prefer to give a listen to Randy Travis singing “Diggin’ Up Bones” as he soulfully ponders “sittin’ alone” and “resurrecting memories” and “exhuming things that’s better left alone” [link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7V2hamnbz4]. So much drama in my life I could scarcely take it all in!
Here I am, 30 years later, with vivid memories of that day etched in my mind when I was so overwhelmed by a totally unexpected curve ball that rocked my world. But today we are all on the cusp of a totally unexpected pandemic with uncertainties looming all around. I’m reminded of living in a world in the early 1990s when the HIV/AIDS epidemic was a death sentence. Those of us who survived without the loss of loved ones to that horrific virus now are facing yet another threat of colossal proportions. I’m tempted to succumb to fear and despair.
I must confess that when many people last week went out to stock up on toilet paper, I stopped at an uncrowded card shop to stock up on sympathy cards. (What does that say about me? I guess I’m preparing for the worst, knowing it will not turn out well for all of us.) But I’ve also learned to armor myself with knowledge and faith and empathy for all involved.
Only this time around, no matter what the future holds, I cherish anew the pure joy of taking long, deep breaths without any respiratory distress in this one-day-at-a-time world. What a gift life is!
Plus, thanks to Frederick Buechner who wrote this prayer for his brother, not a churchgoer, upon his brother’s request when facing a terminal prognosis, I claim it as a perfect prayer for me as well and place it on my nightstand for handy reference:
“Dear Lord, Bring me through darkness into light. Bring me through pain into peace. Bring me through death into life. Be with me wherever I go, and with everyone I love. In Christ’s name I ask it. Amen.”—Frederick Buechner