On an early summer evening about a year ago, my friend Andrea called to see how I was doing. It was a habit we were settling into again that I was joyfully getting used to. We have been friends for many years, but casual phone calls have not always been so easy to come by. Andrea had spent several years in Germany with her husband and kids, and had moved back to Kansas City a few months before. Being able to talk to her on a consistent basis has done something good in my soul. The conversation was about everything and nothing, as if we had all the time in the world. I loved the way that felt. Andrea let me know that she was in the middle of a rousing game of Chutes and Ladders with her then four year old daughter, Elyse. After a few minutes, Elyse wanted to say hello, so Andrea passed her the phone.
“Hey, Elyse! How are things?
“I’m good Aunt Lorraine”
“Are you winning the game you are playing with mommy?”
Then I got the perfect response. With the unwavering confidence of a four-year-old on a mission, Elyse said “Not yet!”
Laughter bubbled inside me and burst forth with reckless abandon.
“Well, the game isn’t over, sweet pea,” I told her as I caught my breath. “You just keep going.”
“Okay!” Then she was gone.
I continued my conversation with Andrea, and the subject matter drifted to what had happened that week, and what was going on with each of us. The call ended with a promise to talk to each other soon, similar, I’m sure; to the way most good friends end an interaction.
When I lay in bed that night, my mind brought me back to how Elyse approached her game. Her message was simple. Things are not exactly the way I want them to be right now, but I am trying. Give me time. The outcome will be different. Just wait and see.
I have had many medical problems in the past month or two. A severe infection landed me in the hospital and a kidney blockage required unexpected surgery and left me in significant pain. Doctors have encouraged me to take one day at a time this summer as we figure out the best way to fix the problems and get me back to being active again. In the midst of uncomfortable medical tests and through the haze of painkillers, it has been easy to let doubts and fears creep into my thoughts. But the other day I thought of Elyse and her strategy in playing Chutes and Ladders.
And as I thought through each of the areas of my life, and I wondered how different things would be if I adopted the same mindset.
Although I have made significant progress, am I always the boss to my caregivers that I want to be? Not yet.
Have I gotten my message of disability awareness and empowerment out to as many people as I want to with my writing and my speaking? Not yet.
Have I reached my goals in terms of fitness and eating a healthy diet? Not yet.
Do I have as many friends in my life as I’d like? Not yet.
I can dwell on the fact that there are several areas in my life that are not quite at the point that I want them. On the other hand, I can choose to follow the model of a little girl who refused to accept things as they were and knew the outcome was yet to be decided.
The game is not over. Just give me time. The end will be different than the way things are now. Just wait and see.
Thanks, Elyse! You taught me a powerful lesson .