What Do I Pray For?

"Mom, where are you? Why is your phone off? I've been trying to get you for hours!" my son said in a voice filled with urgency. Here is what happened.

Last Saturday at about seven o'clock I was with a friend out in the countryside northwest of Toronto. We'd had the perfect day which was sunny and warm. There had been a tearoom lunch with a butter tart dessert, some yard sale finds and, finally, a walk in a park by a waterfall.

As we returned from the park to her car my friend checked her phone, curious about a message showing there. As she listened to the message her jaw dropped open. She handed me her phone. It was a message from my son. I had turned my phone off so he had called my friend. In his message he said that my mentally ill sister, Elaine, had been taken by ambulance from the nursing home, where she lives, to the hospital. As I am the power of attorney for Elaine, hospital staff had already waited for my signature for a few hours before proceeding with an operation. Elaine was deteriorating rapidly, and doctors, who could wait no longer, were going to operate.

After arriving at the hospital I waited to hear how the operation had gone. When the surgeon came to talk to me she explained that the operation had not been an easy one, and she didn't know if Elaine would live or die. If Elaine lived there was no guarantee that she would be the same as she'd been before this crisis.

After seeing my sister, I left the hospital. As I walked out I felt the need to pray. I started my prayer, and then I stopped because I realized that I didn't know what to pray for. Elaine has had such a challenging life. She is seventy-one now and has spent huge amounts of time in mental hospitals where she received electro shock therapy. She's lived in group homes and now, finally, a nursing home, where she spends her days in a wheelchair, her body weak. She gives some meaning to her day by drawing and painting, writing music and keeping a journal. As she said to me a year ago, "I am diminished." Elaine, who almost never complains, has also said to me, "I would not wish my life on anyone." I don't disagree.

The challenge with my prayer, the reason I wept, was my fear that Elaine would be further disabled in every way, both mentally and physically; I couldn't stand that. I've so wanted some decent quality of life for her. I couldn't pray for life at any cost.

The next morning what I needed to understand came to me in the form of an email from someone I didn't know who was sharing their belief. It was part of Buddhist philosophy. Here is what it said. "The healthy view is not to cling to things or people but to enjoy them when they are still here. Cherish every breath and sight, every caress and kiss as the last one. Enjoy life without attachments and judgment. See the beauty, even in the imperfection, as it is not repeatable. To see things as they truly are means to accept them, embrace them and to leave them when it is time to say goodbye, without sadness, but with love. Every moment is a good time to say goodbye and hello to whatever comes.

In the end, Elaine's operation was successful. She is very much alive and on the mend, sitting in her chair and happily drawing. As always, she is glad to see me.

I have gathered fifty uplifting and inspiring stories of love's many faces. There are stories about romantic love, love of family, friends and animals. Many of the stories tell of the lessons love gives us and how it changes us. These stories are in "Heartbeats, True Stories of Love" which is available on Amazon as an e book and paperback.

I invite you to share YOUR story of love on my Facebook page.