The Width and Length of Being Human

"I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it.  I want to have lived the width of it as well." Diane Ackerman

We know the length of life...when it's over, it's over but what about the width?

How far does that extend? Farther than the eye can see or just far enough?

The quote above was long gone and forgotten about until I saw it, as I walked passed my daughter's picture that hung in the corridor at the hospital Cancer Care Center.   I remembered it is one of her favorites.

Today, Sam left his mark in the room where we spent many a long days with Shelbie.   Today, he started his first official treatment and it will happen every week for the remaining length of his life.  That sounds overwhelming, and it is.

Things went well today.  He had no reactions or negative side effects.  His temperature is a little wonky tonight and he's been sleeping most of the day, but that is all to be expected.


It's been a big week of getting all of this co-ordinated.  Our doctor has worked endless hours working with our insurance company and the specialty pharmacies, as well as the hospital here and our team in Salt Lake.   It was Thursday night, when I realized, in part, the broad swath of emotion that this disease has covered.

"I have looked through your family's history and what you are going through with your children and I have to say, I have never heard of anything like this before!  You have such a unique set of challenges. I have heard all of the conversations in phone calls, read the notes, listened to your doctors and you have been so patient with us and with this process.  I don't know how you are doing this.  Your son is going to be okay.  He'll pull through.  I will make sure he gets the care he needs. I want to give you my direct number and I want you to consider me someone who will help you through this. We will take care of your family, you don't need to worry. "

This is what God said to me on Thursday, shortly after my morning prayer of pleading and complaining (just keeping it real)  except he said his name was Bob.  Bob, from the authorization department with my health insurance company.

I am not sure how to begin to express what it felt like to hear his voice.  To hear those words and for one of the few times in our history of this struggle, to have someone witnessing the size of the mountain, that can surely eclipse our sunny corner of the world, was overwhelming.  He left me speechless.  It was exactly what I needed to hear in that very moment.

Bob saw beyond the dollar amounts and expressed his compassion for us; the width of our life was witnessed and the breadth of his grew. I fell apart.  I propped myself up on his compassionate words of humanity.  He even called Sam and wished him luck and offered a measure of support to him personally. 

Everyday is a new struggle.  Everyday is a new kind of hard.  Everyday we climb that mountain or try...truth is, we sometimes just sit on the edge of the mountain and dangle our legs.

When I can have a day or two to catch my breath, sleep for a minute, refocus and reset myself on what matters, I can absolutely leave all this with God.  But as you've witnessed from past posts, there are waning moments when I shrink and I can't do anything but snatch it out of his loving care to pour my worries out upon it.

Alas, we wrestle.  We try to be better than we were, what we've been.  It's the width that matters as much as the length.  Bob expanded the width of his life when he extended kindness to me.  We all need to be more like Bob.   In a world where every good word is criticized and many deeds go unnoticed and patience wears thin and we say we care but we care less...be a Bob.  Be the one to expand the width of your life.  Extend to others, deserving and otherwise...a little love, the benefit of the doubt.  Give each other a little Bob.


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