“Fear has its use but cowardice has none.” ~ Gandhi
It was a little before 8 am as I said goodbye to the love of my life, and then watched as they wheeled him into a surgery that one out of five people don’t recover from.
The months leading up to that moment were laying the foundation for one of the most difficult days of my life. As we learned more about constrictive pericarditis and the effects of having the lining around the heart thicken, harden, and eventually prohibit the heart from beating, we realized how serious this was. The only remedy is open-heart surgery.
Each week I watched him get a little bit sicker. Although he was putting on a good face for everyone else, I knew.
I tried too. Telling everyone that it would be okay and that I was “sure” he would make it. But I wasn’t sure at all.
So many questions were going through my mind, but mostly the question, how could I live without him?
I have dealt with fear all of my life, but this time it was different. This time it brought waves of emotion and sadness through me for weeks. Each time I had to practice being present with the fear. Rather than wanting to push it away, pretend I wasn’t afraid, or letting it consume me. I tried to get present to what was “real” in the moment, take a breath, and trust.
In my typical style, I love to create games out of challenges, so I made an agreement with fear. Fear and I negotiated until we came to an understanding that it could be here and do what it needed to do to serve the highest purpose, but it was not allowed to take over or distort the truth of the moment.
When the day came, I knew that I had to surrender. There was absolutely nothing I could do to make Ron’s heart beat. He was in the hands of the surgeon and his higher power. There was also deep a level of acceptance. What ever was to be, would be, and it would be okay no matter what.
After hours that felt like days, the surgeon came out to talk to us. The moment I saw him, I felt like a hundred pounds were lifted off of me. This was not a man coming to give bad news, on the contrary, everything had gone wonderfully and Ron’s heart was strong and had doubled in size once the constriction was removed. My heart soared!
Life will give us plenty of opportunities to fear failure, rejection, or not being good enough…and then there are the real fears that are life and death.
I am grateful for fear because it tells me how much I care and how passionate I am. The agreement that Fear and I now have keeps me from the dualistic reaction of wanting to run away or wanting to kick its butt. I don’t have to be weak or aggressive, I can be balanced, compassionate, allowing, and peaceful.
What “real” fears exist in your life?
What agreement would you like to make with fear?