With Thanksgiving coming up, and the hustle and bustle of students and shoppers rising before dawn, I decided to leave to work earlier than usual. I find that when I leave early, I slow down and take my time since there is no longer a need to rush. When we stop rushing, we breathe, and our eyes and ears open up, which is exactly what happened to me.
Perfect timing, since unexpectedly, 3 of my relatives and one of my friends passed away. The morning was crippling, with a sense of Why. Why should I get up with all of this pain? A sense of How. How do we face the world with so much heartache and endings? It’s also the month of the anniversary of my mother’s passing, and what would have been my late father’s birthday.
With both of them gone, it’s often a month with allotted time to reflect on love and loss, the good times and the sad. And in pushing through the pain to make it out of the house with a backpack of grief, my deep search for the meaning of life one early morning, was coupled by a frantic search for my keys, sunglasses and my packed lunch bag which I swore I had already took out of the refrigerator yet could not find for the life of me, along with some important documents for work. And then it hit, I wasn’t breathing.
The brilliant conclusion of taking my time had vanished and I was once again frazzled. I paused in my tracks, and finally breathed, and stopped cursing at the lost belongings and instead, started my gratitude list in my head.
I’m grateful….for….I have so much to be thankful for….umm…I’m grateful for my husband who survived brain cancer twice and now stands by my side strong and with will 12 years in remission, I’m grateful for our cats all of whom were rescued from cold and shattered streets and woke up fed and loved in our warm sheets that morning. I’m grateful for a job, health insurance, a car and a roof above my head- all of which I had not had at one point of my life. I’m grateful for my sister’s losses, because through her pain which I shared, she transformed, and like a blooming flower she transferred that energy by creating the website, ChooseAFamily.com, where thousands of individuals are just a click away from a loving connection. I’m grateful I live in America where there is an open window for our voices to be heard. And I’m grateful I had a choice this morning to stop and breathe, to pause in my tracks and start the day over. I am grateful I continued to walk out of the door despite my contemplation to not show up today.
One more check on my gratitude list- I made it past the stoop. And just when I thought my morning was already filled with such insight, well enough to last through one more day of neighbors and colleagues calling and texting “Sorry for your loss”, I looked up and saw the bright autumn golden sun shimmering off purple petals. They were hugging an old rusty fence under elevated train tracks..the most beautiful Morning Glories living and breathing, dancing in and out of the diamond shaped metal spaces on the gate. I was in awe at such beauty, and realized it was quite funny that the passer byes rushing, certainly thought I was crazy to stop and stare in the middle of a busy NYC block. If you see something say something. So I did, instantly a haiku began to ring in my ears and out of my mouth. Haikus are hard to come “instantly”, since it’s a poem with such strict structure; 3 lines with each line having a certain amount of syllables bouncing out of your mouth or through your pen. 5, 7, 5. In this case, the structure was needed and fluttered from lips so easily into my voice recorder app on my cell phone. It was as if the whole frantic morning accumulated into this one magic moment- a life lesson from a flower.
Morning Glories rise
Despite a fence that blocks them
So again shall we
We all will have what we think are fences blocking us. But this fence, helped the Morning Glories climb closer to the light. We have the power of survival in us to keep climbing, always, no matter what. That day I continued to my car and drove to work, made it just a few minutes late and it wasn’t the end of the world.
I turned on my copier and scanner, my work email, my side job email, my work efax, my personal email, and stopped to finally breathe again when I received an email notification that someone wrote to me on my Choose A Family membership page. I opened it up, and I swear this is a true story, it came from someone I’ve never chatted with before- I exhaled as I read, “You are never alone”.
About the writer: Jill Parshley-Cardillo is a “Jill of all trades”: A writer, teacher, early child-care provider, voice-over actress, NY licensed real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty, a mortgage loan officer assistant at Residential Home Funding Corp, and a proud member and blogger on her sister’s website, www.chooseafamily.com. Jill resides in her hometown of Astoria, Queens with her husband Anthony Cardillo Jr. a carpenter and visual artist.