Life, Death and Italian Red Peppers

dalai lama

My husband Eric was diagnosed with a disease in October of 2013.  Never mind what it was.   Certain stories don’t bear repeating.

I remember the day vividly because I sing for a choir — Womansong of Asheville.  A couple days after he was pronounced pretty much “outta here” by a local medical messenger of doom and gloom, I was scheduled to sing in a Womansong Concert (and I had a solo) and I remember praying that I would be able to sing like I cared about being there.  And I also prayed that I could sing knowing that the Universe is always helping me, even if I can’t see it.  I did fine and the concert was really great — the whole choir was elated about the success of the performance.

Despite the discouraging news about his health, Eric’s will to live was strong.  Picture a team of ten wild horses on firm dry ground pulling a tiny ant on a little bitty sled.  It was like that.  Eric simply scoffed at the idea of dying.  It was not a concern for him.

But his health seemed to deteriorate steadily, and Eric was placed in hospice.

And then!  Eric turned a miraculous and unexplainable corner!  He started getting better.

I’ll never forget the day he said words no one ever expected him to say again, “I’m hungry. Can you bring me some food?”

The nurse looked shocked, followed quickly by delight and amazement.  She didn’t know what in the world to think!  But she brought him a tray — pronto! — and he consumed it.

Then he asked for tubes to be removed.  And of course they were removed, because it is the job of hospice to grant final wishes.

Nobody could figure out these stunning new developments which defied all logic and reason,  leaving hospice doctors and nurses shaking their heads.  Nobody knew what to say.  Or think.  But it made everybody really, really happy.  It made all of us re-think our beliefs system, that’s for sure!

That’s the short story.

Then, after days and days of certified blue ribbon well-being, and living in total appreciation, a couple weeks ago, Eric encountered a sudden change for the worse.

It arrived in the form of strong back and hip pain and nausea.  A relapse?

Nope, not good.

The symptoms threw him completely off the merry-go-round.  He took it hard.  Emotionally speaking, he fell down and couldn’t get up.   The change was shocking to him, a devastating left jab he didn’t expect. 

Understandably, his mind went into a spin.  In the middle of all of this, mine started to do the same.  It was clear that some form of relief was in order!  And since it’s not my job to control his mind, I thought I’d get to work on my own mind.

So I did something that works for me.  What I actually did will sound insignificant.  I distracted myself with something I like to do.sweet Italian red peppers

Yes, it’s counter-intuitive to ignore a big hairy problem.  It seems practically wrong.  Irresponsible.  Unkind.  Uncaring.  Thoughtless.  Selfish.

But I did it anyway. Because I knew that changing my focus would help me.  And I needed that.  A lot.

I planted something.

I put on my garden pants, my gloves, and in the heat of the afternoon, I dug little baby holes for my little baby heirloom Italian Red Pepper plants.   I put them in the ground.  I gave them water.  They were happy.  I was happy.

These peppers are such funny characters.   They have been in little starter pots, but not growing much.   Maybe they didn’t like the potting mix.

After all the planting was done, Eric  and I talked into the wee hours that night.  I am not sure how either of us finally fell asleep.

The next morning we both woke up in a better place.  Sleep is a dalai lama umbrellavery good thing.

Now, as I write this,  I can’t say I really know what’s happening, and nobody can.

So I am turning to this quote for help and relief.

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry.  If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
― Dalai Lama XIV



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In Care of Relationships with Terri Crosby– Tools For Creating Positive Momentum.  Terri is a relationship mentor.  She helps create life-affirming, ever-evolving, happier relationships with those you love.

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Dalai Lama, In Care of Relationships, Italian red peppers, life and death, relationship, relationships, Terri Crosby

Comments (10)

  • This is such a good quote!, I am copying it to remember for myself. And when I see my little heirloom Italian Red Peppers, I am going to remember the Dalai Lama’s words, and of course I always think of you!

  • wonderful writing. a wise and deep journey you are on! two other worry quotes come to mind: ” worry is a negative prayer” and ” worry is like getting on a rocking horse and galloping nowhere.” love, d

    • I especially like the one about worry being a negative prayer. Like — in this now moment, we are creating our future, so how do we really want things to be? Hmmmmm….. thanks, Dorothy. love, T

  • Love the significance of the insignificant moment to come simply to Presence and your humanly wry explanation of how to do that.

    • yes, as I was putting those little peppers in the ground and giving them water, I thought about how I always have the chance to plant something I want, or something I don’t. It gets really really clear in these simple moments. I can have a “garden of life” by default — see what the wind brings — or deliberately plant what I want to grow. It’s simple, but it requires really being awake, which I am learning more about every day. Love you, Elle.

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