Surprise parties, a surprise vacation, a surprise visit, a surprise gift; “Surprise” is a word commonly associated with excitement and positive experiences. Yet, life also teaches us the dark side of the word: the tragic, the unexpected.
It is the phone call in the middle of a family vacation that your uncle has died in a tragic farming accident. It is the hush of the hospital room when the doctor says, “You have cancer.” It is finding out that the love of your life has been unfaithful. It is getting word that your cousin has been deployed to Iraq. It is the ambulance in the middle of the night that has come to whisk your ailing father away.
We have all experienced such things: the surprises that turn our entire world upside down in an instant. Things that come without warning, and with such harshness that it seems impossible to bounce back. We are overwhelmed with emotions: anger, pain, frustration, resentment. Or, we are lost in our numbness and feel nothing. We become statues of shock.
It is these unforeseen moments that are the hardest to recover from.
It is also these moments that can be the most instrumental in the shaping of our character. These are the moments that most accurately tell our story.
When we were given the Post topic for this month, “Pleasant Surprises”, I realized that most “pleasant surprises” in my life came out of something initially unpleasant.
It came from the calm determination and incredible strength of my best friend’s father, Tim Kruschek, who passed away from cancer. He was a champion. He touched so many lives, and at the end of his, he left with dignity, grace, and a kind of peace that affected everyone around him. I will always consider him to be one of my greatest heroes. His example continues to shape me.
Cancer itself has been a huge surprise to me. Something that I was once so afraid of, a word that carried such weight has brought me some of the greatest friendships and taught me some of the most beautiful life lessons that I am nearly inclined to shake its hand. I have witnessed a disease designed to take away life fill people with more life, more vigor, and more resilience than they could have ever imagined.
Now, there’s a surprise.