The word that keeps coming to my mind is luxury. It is a strange word to apply to illness, but somehow, the two words keep linking in my mind. Can I say I am having a luxurious illness? Not really. But the circumstances around my illness are those of relative luxury. I keep thinking of how different my experience could be, of how many people are suffering similar challenges without the benefits and blessings that mean this illness is really the only problem in my life. I receive sick leave benefits from my job and have no financial stress. I am being well cared for by loving family who are anxious to give me whatever I might want. My lover is near me with tender attention. I am not worried about my children, who are so solidly on track to being independent, fulfilled, responsible young men. They have beautiful souls. I am surrounded with beauty. My bed is a haven of comfort. I am safe.
People keep asking how I am managing so well. But I am acutely aware of how privileged I am in being able to approach this new part of my life in this way. I am sure that in no small measure these gifts make the difference. I can’t help counting my blessings, even as –or perhaps especially as– I face losing them all. Though I was already living in daily gratitude for all these gifts, they are all the more precious and appreciated now.
I wish the world were more equitable, that nobody had to suffer in illness and face death alone and uncared for, in poverty, or worried about the well-being of those they were leaving behind. People have said to me that it’s not fair that I am ill. But it is also not fair that I have had such a privileged and beautiful life. I never expected life to be fair, but I have always wanted it to be and worked towards making it more equitable. While the world we live in will never be perfectly so, it is within the power of each of us to do something to make things better for others in need. It just takes a little extra generosity, a little extra kindness. A question we can all ask of ourselves: is there anything I can do for someone else?