I’ve written before about my sister, Anna Maria. She was the 11th child in my parent’s family of 17 children. One of my earliest memories of her is when she was two years old. Every time I saw her, she was clutching her security blanket. It didn’t matter whether she was sitting, standing, walking, running, or laying down, it was as though her security blanket was attached to her body. She was always happy, and out of all my sisters, she had the sweetest disposition.
Earlier this month, an elderly client of mine who is in his 80s — I’ll call him John — wasn’t feeling well, so he went to the emergency department of one of the local hospitals. Prior to going to the hospital, John had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. In addition to the virus, he had other medical issues (comorbidities) that put him in the high-risk category for COVID patients.
In February of this year, I caught a virus that made me sicker than I’ve been in years. For the first few days after the virus hit me, I had a fever that raged at night and eased up during the day. I slept on the couch on pillows that were stacked to keep me in an inclined position. I had to do that because in addition to the fever, I was coughing up mucus and was unable to lay flat. For the first few nights, I also had nightmares that bordered on hallucinations.
As we grow older, we get to a point where we realize that if we want to maintain our sanity, we must accept each new challenge that we face as an opportunity for growth. We learn that each time we conquer a new challenge, there’s always going to be a new and greater challenge that we will have to deal with in the future. While each new challenge is always personal in nature, it also sometimes includes one or more of our family members or friends.
After I started my law practice in January 1983, one of my first clients was Donna Schmidt. I had met Donna several years earlier when my mom introduced me to her. I don’t remember where we were introduced, but I do remember that it was at a Catholic religious event. Donna was a year younger than my mom. They had known each other since they were teenagers, when they both attended the same high school — the Academy of Our Lady, in Peoria, Illinois.
Last week, I wrote about how we spend a good part of our lives in sorrow because of suffering that is, in most cases, unavoidable. I provided a short but specific definition of the word “suffer,” which is, “to undergo or feel pain or distress.” I then provided the definition of “sorrow,” which is “a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.”