I just got an email from an old colleague. He wrote that his wife, on her way back from posting a letter across the street, tripped and fell, hitting her head on a rock. She was unconscious and had to be rushed to a trauma ICU where they removed a piece of her skull so the blood could drain out. The odds of people surviving the procedure are 50-50. She is part of the lucky 50% and is doing very well.
When I heard this news I was whiplashed by the fact that it happened to her – a vibrant, smart consultant, a vegetarian, a yoga practitioner with a high social and spiritual consciousness. None of these qualities protected her from the chaos that buzzes around us all the time. And, of course, the extrapolation is that we are all susceptible.
As couples, we drift from moment to moment, counting on the illusion of control while ignoring the ubiquity of chaos, so that we can chart our lives with a sense of continuity and security. We plan to buy our first home, to have babies, to find satisfying careers, to travel, to grow old with dignity, and to retire with secure income streams. Some of us may separate or divorce, have boring jobs, and wind up with cats instead of kids. But that is never the script we write for ourselves. And nowhere in our story is there a placeholder for the intrusion of illness or trauma.
I think the best we can do, which is what these friends have done, is to build a loving foundation and to have had enough practice at communicating about the smaller hard stuff, so that when the skies rip apart and the lightening bolts strike, we can still find each other in the storm.