Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Let's Just Blame Barry

It's Barry's fault. He writes an amazing blog about his experiences.

Unfortunately Barry has been recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer which he is bravely facing. Barry is blessing us though by sharing the intimacies of living, fighting and dealing with having cancer. We read daily of the blow by blow of the inside life of a person with cancer. His blog is life changing.

So why is it his fault? Well, he wrote about conversations (http://anexplorers.blogspot.com/2009/07/casual-conversation.html) and about how we say hello to each other. The question was about how do you respond if you have cancer and he described conversations of various people who had cancer.

This brought a wave of memories for me - some from a while back and a couple more recently. That's why it's his fault. He writes so well that he draws the emotions out.

I wrote about Bruce in the comments section of his blog - I'll paste that bit below. But what I want to tell you about is Bonnie.

Bonnie has cancer. I don't know her well. She works in my building for the same department but a different section. We have never really had many chit chat type conversations. Our only real connection has been when Bonnie came to take software classes that I taught as part of my job. She struggled a bit with the computer, so we would have some one-on-one time in class. She was a pleasant student though and I enjoyed having her in my classes.

She was off for a very long time. I didn't even know at first that she was ill. Word can sometimes seep slowly through a very large department but eventually I heard she was off battling cancer. Then I forgot about it. It's a not very kind thing, but it's true. Life and work and busi-ness and I didn't know Bonnie well so we didn't associate much. She just slipped from my mind.

Then she'd show up in my cubicle. She wanted to chat and she was staring at my very intensely, but in a very loving way. I caught this emotion vibe from her but I was clueless as to why she stopped to chat with me because we hardly know each other and then because of the look in her eyes.

She mentioned that she'd just been in to see the people in personnel and she reminded me that she had been off on sick leave because she's battling bowel cancer. Of course, then my memory returned. She told me that the doctors are calling her a miracle. She should not be alive, but she is. She pointed out her wig, mentioning that she'd lost all her hair. What I noticed was the love that was just spilling from her eyes.

What is remarkable is the polar opposites of our mental positions. My head was wrapped up in my work. I was in my professional workplace mode and was acting in that role as I'm accustomed to doing. But Bonnie, she had broken out of that mold, mind you by force, but nevertheless she had done it. Her life experiences had transported her to a new plane. She was operating on a spiritual level and that was what I realized was the look in her eyes. She was trying to connect to me the person, not the business professional. And I had to shake off the professional and be a person again so I could connect with her at that important human level.

It took a woman I barely knew with cancer to interrupt my "busy" day to show me how I was being caught up in stuff that quite frankly really didn't matter. I never used to understand that saying "in a 100 years no one will care" because I thought everyone would. But now I know better. I've seen things in the workplace that I cared deeply and intensely about be tossed off like yesterday's garbage. And I'm saddened to think that I would give up an opportunity to work on my relationships with others by chatting so I could run back to my desk to work on what would be garbage a few years from that day.

Barry stirred up my recent metamorphosis/change experiences where I've spent considerable time having a deep heartfelt look at things that I thought really mattered, only to find that they didn't. It was earth shattering and a revelation. I believe it's made me a better person, helped to refocus and re-balance my life and relationships.

When I ask people how they are I always stop to really listen to their response.

So, thanks Barry.

My Comments from Barry's blog:

I have about 4 stories I could share on this topic but I'll share just one and try to be brief.

At work, I'm the "busy person" - the one that doesn't stop and waste time very often chatting. I don't have a problem if others do it, it's just that I don't care for it. So the whole "How are you?" and answer, "I'm fine" would be my normal response - anything else can lead to conversation as we all know.But one day Bruce invited me into his office. He had a map out and he was very excited about planning his first overseas trip to France.

You see Bruce had really severe diabetes and a heart valve problem and had been on a transplant list. He got a kidney and it transformed his life - no more insulin or diabetes. I was so happy to see him well.I felt a prompting inside telling me, why not take some time and visit with Bruce, so I did.

We had a great chat as he pointed out the sights on his map that he planned to visit. I left his office feeling more upbeat than before - so I was glad I listened to the prompting.

That night Bruce had a heart attack and died. I can tell you EXACTLY how I would feel today if I had not stopped to chat and went back to my desk to work 'busily' on some ridiculous report that I don't even recall. That day I did something that was WAY more important.I have a happy memory of our last time together. :)


thecrazysheeplady said...


Jan Mader said...

Yes, Amen indeed.

When I read your post, I was reminded (once again) of what's important and what's not.

Mostly it's relationships that are important...caring, loving, relationships.

Thank you for sharing your very moving experiences. Jan

Jan Mader said...

P.S. I always tell my kids that it's easy to love people who are close to you. It's harder to share that same love with people who are not.

Sometimes, those are the people who need it the most.

Okay, Barbara, now I'm on a roll! See what your writing inspired...that's good!

PhilipH said...

As one gets older things tend to change our perspective on life, time and things that really matter. I love this poem:

What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep, or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

PhilipH - Thank you so much for the poem. I absolutely love it.