Friday, May 27, 2011
The loss of Bridget Zinn, cancer, and sadness
Ask anyone what they loved about Bridget and you will probably hear many wonderful things. However, all will say her bright and sunny outlook on life, even in the midst of horrible, difficult, painful stuff. Truly, that bright and sunny outlook rarely wavered.
I want to share with you something she wrote on her blog back in 2010. I remembered this post, went looking for it, and found it. You can find the entire thing HERE.
So you can understand why those of us who knew Bridget are reeling after her death on Wednesday, from complications due to colon cancer. We are going to miss this bright and sunny young woman SO very much.
And many of us are reeling AGAIN. Because of cancer. Again.
Talk about putting things in perspective.
Get a bad review? At least it's not cancer.
When your son drops your laptop and breaks it? At least it's not cancer.
Frustrated you're not losing a few pounds along with the inches when you're working out so hard? You are healthy and alive and thank God you do not have cancer.
In December, my friend Lisa and I got together for coffee, just a week or two before she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. At the time, they thought she had developed pancreatitis. She was getting used to the idea of a life of on-and-off pain, of having to be careful about the kinds of things she ate and drank. I commiserated with her, imagining a life of avoiding certain foods I loved, like chocolate and other things, and most of all, feeling so bad for her that she had to figure out how to live and work and write around the pain.
She looked at me and said, "At least it's not cancer."
And that's the thing. It can change on a dime. All of it. Any of it. For you, for me, for anyone. All we have is now. And so we think, I better make the most of it.
It's hard though, isn't it? When the sadness is so overwhelming at times.
In a note Oprah wrote on Facebook yesterday, she talked about a passage from Mark Nepo's Book of Awakening. The passage is called "Being Sad."
"The best thing for being sad, replied Merlin, is to learn something. ~ T.H. White
The idea here is not to divert the sadness, but to give it a context from life other than what is making you sad. Just as ginger can lose its bitterness when baked in bread, sadness can be leavened by other life. When feeling the sharpness of being sad or hurt, it helps to take new things in. This pours the water of life on the fire of the heart. So when exhausted from expressing all that hurt, listen to music you've never heard, or ask someone to tell you an old story from before your birth, or take a drive down a road near a ridge you've always meant to look out from. Look with your sad eyes on things new to you that will give you something to do with your sadness. Your sadness is the paint. You must find a canvas."
So that is what I am doing. Looking for the canvas.
For those of us who write, certainly, the pages we write on will be our canvas at times. It is a good place for all of that emotion.
Bridget, of all people, wouldn't want us to be sad for long. After all, she'd be the first to tell you she had a good life, even it was much too short. She was loved and she was happy.
In fact, I think it's safe to say, she would want us to be happy *now.* I'll try, Bridget. For you, I'll try.