The Gift

Over the holidays, while most of us were trimming trees and wrapping gifts, my mom’s doctors were uncovering a tumor on her brain. After 10 years of growing in deadly silence, this golf-ball-sized intruder was making its presence known by pressing on her left temporal lobe and diminishing her ability to communicate.

Her sudden inability to communicate inspired fervent communication within our family. Father, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends were calling and texting and i-chatting and visiting throughout the diagnosis. The surgery was scheduled. Surgeons sliced into my mom’s head, peeled the skin back from her face, chiseled out a circle on the left side of her skull (near the eye) and removed the tumor. Then, they put it all back together again.

The tumor was benign, thank God. And it’s gone for good. I hope the lesson, however, is not.

We get up each morning and think our plans are important. We think the work we do matters. We think our presence at every meeting is vital.

When you find out your mom’s (or your dad’s or your husband’s or your child’s or your) health is in danger, the meeting you thought was so important is suddenly irrelevant. Nothing matters except your loved one’s health.

When we’re healthy, we take it for granted. We don’t give it a second thought.

When we have a serious health problem, however, we can’t think about anything else.

It’s true what they say: Our health is all we have.

After the surgery, my mom’s biggest concern was that she didn’t remember what she’d gotten any of us for Christmas. She was worried that, in her unclear mental state, she’d confused or forgotten our gifts.

Not one of us cared in the least, of course. We had already received our gift: our mother was going to be ok. And, God willing, we’ll get to celebrate many more Christmases together.

So here’s to our health in 2011. May we treasure it for the gift it is every single day.