I heard a new definition of pessimist recently. A pessimist is an optimist with experience. I am, as the song from South Pacific goes – a cockeyed optimist. I haven’t quite made it to pessimist, but I do have my days. There are many surprises in life, some of which make it difficult to maintain a positive and upbeat outlook.
But I do.
I’m like Snoopy in the Charlie Brown cartoon shown with this post. Yes, bad things can and do happen, but the rest of the time they don’t.
I have friends who have terminal illnesses of one kind or another. You know the amazing thing? Most of these folks are more optimistic about life than the people around them. One of them has dealt with cancer more than once, but through it all she remained a fighter, and a survivor. This time she knows it’s the last time, and she is preparing and prepared. Her spirit is like starlight on a dark night, brighter than anything around it, eclipsing the sadness and fear, overcoming despair.
When my sister-in-law was in cancer’s waiting room, those of us fortunate enough to be with her through the last days of her life found more comfort coming from her than we ever gave. My mother was the same, but I knew she was ready to move on when she said, “I want to go home.” We all knew she wanted to pass from this life into God’s hands. One day she looked up toward the ceiling, lifted her arms and said, “He’s reaching for me. I’m ready.” Eerie? Yup. Did we think she saw someone, God, reaching down for her from heaven? Does it matter? She believed it.
Others I know who are in treatment for cancer have amazing stamina for the grueling and sometimes debilitating regimen they undergo. Their faith and trust are without question. Are they being optimists, or is their connection with – and understanding of – God so profoundly strong, it colors their every day with a clarity we who want to love them into remission simply cannot fathom? I don’t know. I share the gift of their trust and give it back with prayerful respect, trusting in my Creator God, as do they.
No doubt there are non-believers who are just as strong and just as amazingly inspirational through the trials of cancer and other illnesses. Believers don’t have a corner on bravery and hope. The point is that whether you call it optimism or faith, the bubble of believing is in each of us in some measure. What we can’t know is how our courage brings healing and hope to all the people around us.
In this befuddling world I continue to be optimistic. I continue to have hope that people I love who are struggling will turn their lives around. I live each day believing today will be better than yesterday and tomorrow is a gift waiting to be opened. I believe in miraculous healing. I believe in letting go and saying goodbye to those with terminal illnesses whose suffering has made their lives miserable. I believe there are no easy answers; that does not mean we shouldn’t work through the hard questions.
In the words of Charlie Brown and Snoopy: “Someday we will all die, but on all the others, we will not.” Snoopy was always the wise one… and the optimist.
The Charlie Brown cartoon was circulated through Facebook, which I hope makes it public domain.