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When Life Throws You Rocks

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

I turn to this quote from Vivian Green for inspiration when I’m having one of those days—the sort of day that if something can go wrong, it definitely will. The sort of day that leaves you wishing you’d followed your first instincts, pulled the covers over your head and stayed in bed to hide from the world.

We all have days when nothing seems to go right and it feels like the universe is conspiring against us. But those days usually pass. The next day, the sun is shining and we breathe a sigh of relief knowing things are back on track.

But what happens when the storm doesn’t pass? What happens when, time and time again, you’re dealt a blow that makes it more difficult to get back up? When one thing after another goes wrong and overwhelming feelings of disappointment, failure and gloom descend?

Times like these remind us that our lives are precariously balanced. Tragedy and disappointment do not discriminate. Their devastating blows can knock us off our feet and cause us to question our own existence.

This week, life hurled a rock at me. I lost my balance, but in trying to gain it back, I found some clarity.

I called a dear friend, Jane, whom I hadn’t spoken with in months. Jane and I have one of those friendships that doesn’t need regular maintenance. Every time we speak, it feels like no time has passed—we pick up effortlessly where we left off. I’d heard that Jane had finally retired after working 12-hour days for decades at a job she loved. I was anxious to see how she was adjusting to her new lifestyle.

Jane answered the phone with characteristic cheeriness that I’ve grown to love, then insisted on being updated on my news before allowing me to ask about hers. With the same cheerful tone in her voice, Jane told me that just a month after she’d finishing working, she was diagnosed with cancer. Inoperable cancer. The same day she learned of her own terminal illness was the day her beloved daughter-in-law passed away.