After the Storm

There are some things in life that we just don’t like to think about. It’s the nightmare which happily only happens to other people. But sometimes we find ourselves in a nightmare – the kind that you’re painfully awake to see it’s not just a bad dream.

Do not be afraid.

That was the first lifeline that was thrown to me as I was floundering in fear and despair after receiving the unexpected news from the hospital. It pulled me out of the churning waters of choking fear. I held on to it for dear life. These were the first words that cut through the fog I was stumbling about in a daze.

“Do not be afraid. This is not a death sentence but the beginning of a new life”.

A bolt of lightning shot through me and I grasped on to this revelation and repeated it like a mantra over the days to come.

These words were spoken to me by none other than a woman who had walked the same difficult path 26 years ago. These simple words were so life-empowering they kept me from sinking into utter despair right from the start.

She was diagnosed eleven months after giving birth to her first child. Ten years later, she had her second child. She took up the cello together with her daughter and at the age of 53 went on to play for a community orchestra. Wanting to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming an artist, this amazing woman started painting at the same time. She is currently planning a solo exhibition for her artworks.

She is my inspiration.

I would soon meet another breast cancer survivor. Another inspiration. She was diagnosed while pregnant with her third baby. After giving birth, she had a mastectomy the very next day. The doctor gave her the grim news that she had six months to live. Thirty years on today, she is a grandmother.

These two women held my hand every step of the way and cheered me on. They fed me hope.

We don’t hear enough of such success stories and we need to. Storms come but lifelines are thrown out too.

Life as we know it will never be the same again once hit by the fury and devastation of life’s hurricanes. But even after the panic and chaos subside, we awake to the new realisation that everything that was razed to the ground was worthless, foolish, puny and trivial to begin with. Because the truly imperishable always live on.

Storms and fires are Life’s kind and merciful way of clearing away the rubbish that have cluttered and sullied our hearts.

To help us undo what we ourselves couldn’t have been able to undo in our lifetime.

“My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy.” – Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892)