When my family and I traveled to Cozumel one year for a much-needed family vacation, I carried the book Shadow Divers by John Kurson. This book describes an incredible dive performed by Richie Kohler and John Chatterton to identify a German U-Boat off the coast of New Jersey. One of the divers was a Vietnam veteran, and described the set of rules for life which he developed while in Vietnam. I don’t remember them all (except that they were excellent), but one of them deeply affected me. This is the gist:
There is no force in the universe more powerful than a human being who knows he or she is already dead, and thus has nothing left to lose.
I found this transformational, you see, because I have been very, very ill, and at times was completely convinced that I was dying. I have psoriasis, which is pretty serious, but mostly not life threatening. However, I became very severe in 2012, and thus was in a lot of pain, and definitely not doing well. I will not belabor you with the gory details, but suffice it to say, I was in very bad shape at that time.
I am fine now, thank God. There are several reasons for this, one of which is my loving and beautiful wife who never ceased to pray and fight for me. Ultimately, I was able to find a treatment which has been remarkably effective, and I am now about 90% improved. In the autoimmunity world, this is called remission.
My son made an interesting statement to me recently: He said of all people, I should be the most happy, because I have cheated death. I have come to the edge of the abyss and backed away from it. I have looked the grim reaper in the eye and spit in his face. You get the idea.
I find that happy is not the word I would use to describe the experience. Certainly, I am grateful. I live in a state of continuous thankfulness. I give thanks for each and every breath I take, because I am aware that each breath is a gift.
Now, I am watching my wife go through a similar journey. I must admit that I find her courage inspiring. Yet I also desperately wish that it could be me, not her, that is sick. No matter. I simply have to be there for her now. She was there for me, after all.
In the end, there is nothing else. All we have is each other.