It is amazingly powerful to hear your son tell you that even with all the recent hardships he’s experienced, that today he is thankful. I am visiting Z for a few days and we are sitting on the beach relaxing and chatting. He tells me that he is in such a better place than he was a year and 1/2 ago. He tells me that God has saved him time and again in the past couple of weeks. And my heart swells with gratitude for his perspective on life. Because Z has experienced a harder past two weeks than most people do over the course of several years. Yet instead of being angry or feeling like a victim, he sees what’s gone right and feels appreciative.
We are enjoying what we are hoping will be my son’s first seizure-free day in quite a while. We tried to set the whole day up to be stress-free. Z was diagnosed with epilepsy a few months ago and he has had seizures almost every day over the past couple of weeks, despite a change in neurologists and medication. He has been taken to the ER almost as often. In the same recent time frame, Z’s best friend, his roommate, tried to kill himself in front of Z. Two days later Z had to remove close relatives from his life. Two days after that he had to deal with an immoral ER doctor. And throughout, he had to deal with his own old demons rearing their heads.
Yet when he looks back on these past days, what he sees is how he was supported and guided. A mentor guided him so wisely to enable him to save his friend’s life. Another mentor prudently advised him to put up essential boundaries with the relatives, as he was racing to rescue them from a situation, putting himself at risk. His new neurologist entered the ER magically and saved him from very difficult circumstances he was experiencing with a misguided doctor. A girl angelically appeared outside on the pavement as he was about to have a seizure, sat cross legged on the ground, and gently told him to place his head in her lap. In the past two weeks he has been embraced by so many people he has connected with over the past year, and realizes now what a truly caring community he has. This is what he focuses on as he reflects back on his recent days.
This is my first time seeing him since his diagnosis so I am not sure what to expect. I do know that I am in ‘Mom’s here now, let’s help you be as healthy as possible’ mode. As part of our healing, stress-free day, we eat 3 great meals a day and keep hydrated. We walk the boardwalk eating ice cream, a necessary part of any Zen experience. At night we go together to a Music AA meeting. Only in LA. I am flattered that he trusts me enough to invite me. I also feel relief that I can be there for him in case he feels sick.
There are 75 people crammed into a small, hot room. People bring guitars and volunteers play music as their “share.” It isn’t a talent show and anyone who has something to express is welcome to do so in this coffee-house style meeting. The songs range from little ditties people wrote themselves to current hits to show tunes (that one is a huge surprise sung by a much older, understated man who clearly was on Broadway in his heyday.) For many songs the audience is encouraged to sing along and for others, there is a respectful appreciation for the message. Every message is inspirational and every person who shares is brave. The theme is Despite what I’ve been through, here I am. The truth my son owns and shares daily with me.
There are too many volunteers and not enough time, so my son, who has been holding his guitar all night, doesn’t have an opportunity to play his song in the room. But as we spill out onto the sidewalk, a woman asks him to sing his song for her. She’s been watching him all night and really wants to hear what he has to say. I am grateful because I also want to hear what he is going to sing. He stands in the middle of that sidewalk, plays his guitar, and croons a powerful song that he has written himself. As he sings, others gather around. I normally am not be privy to these experiences he has, and I am so glad I am tonight. He sings beautifully and with emotion. I didn’t realize he sings so well. And then, when he is done, he humbly puts down the guitar and starts chatting with his buddies, like he isn’t actually the secret rock star I now know he is. Because that isn’t what this is about. It is about showing up, being brave, sharing your experiences to remind yourself and others to remain hopeful no matter what happens in life. I wish we could all do that for everything that comes our way.
And I wish we could all stand together at the end of our get-togethers and meetings in life holding hands, as they do at the closure of every AA meeting, and say in unison,”God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.”
I am so happy that my son has found a lot of serenity, has a ton of courage, and is a very wise man. And I celebrate that he had a seizure-free day!