"Always believe something wonderful is about to happen.” Dr. Sukhraj Dhillon
My husband Patrick and I were in a shop in Kennebunkport where hopeful pastels for Easter were spread on the glass shelves and hanging from the ceiling. I looked down and saw a dish that had the inscription in all capitals: ALWAYS BELIEVE SOMETHING WONDERFUL IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. Even living the (no kidding, as in the doctor says so) miracle of my husband being saved from a medical crisis in January and his continued recovery did not stop my first involuntary thought of “yeah right.” As a lifelong pessimist with the glass is half empty kind of approach, old habits are hard to break. I took out my phone and took a picture of the dish. Later I edited it just right and saved it to my phone so when I pick it up, it will be right there. I was going to give this a try.
I confess that over the last two years or more, I have had the same definition of what “something wonderful” would be. I thought about it all the time. There was that ONE thing that would be wonderful. Every time I looked at my phone, I wondered what it even means to think like this. I think the question stayed with me in a bubble above my head like a comic strip holds the dialogue.
After the kind of trauma that we have been through with my husband’s illness, I find that realizations need to come slow; we can only take so much in. Numbness and exhaustion can have the function of protecting you from too much. I woke up one morning and Patrick was next to me. Like every morning in Maine, it was cold and snowy outside. I lay against him feeling the warmth and realized that this was it – this is the wonderful. I woke up next to my husband who is alive, well, and whole.
Again, as a pessimist who waits for the other shoe to drop, I sat in the quiet not even caring where the shoes were. This was an honest to God epiphany. This was big. This was huge. I realized that if I am lucky enough every morning to wake up next to my husband who is alive, well, and whole, something wonderful has already happened. I need look no further.
But then something happened… when I was in the warm shower, I thought how good it felt to have a shower. In the first days after my husband came home from the hospital, our well pump decided that this was the perfect time to stop working. A foot of snow was on the way and the well diggers weren’t able to come for a couple of days. Dealing with a busted well pump in the middle of cardiac recovery has a way of reinforcing the wonder of a hot shower and water on demand.
And it continued. It was wonderful that our son moved in with us to help his father recover. It was wonderful that our other son was coming to visit for St. Patrick’s Day. It was wonderful that our daughter was knitting kilt socks for Patrick (a true Irishman) for St. Patrick’s Day. It was wonderful that all of this brought us closer to family and friends. It was wonderful that I work at a place that put their heart and soul into my family’s struggle. It was wonderful that so many cards kept coming in the mail and that people we didn’t even know sent money to help with medical bills and expenses. And the list goes on and on.
I try very hard to keep looking for wonder. I am better some days than others. I still get frustrated at night when I hit the deep pothole at full speed, when I get behind someone who is driving 15 miles below the speed limit where there are no safe stretches to pass, or when the computer decides to update when I am in the middle of something important. But I have learned that when we clearly and specifically define what our idea of wonderful is, we miss all the other stuff all around us. This means that we are in the midst of wonderful all the time and don’t even know it. If this pessimistic soul can do this, anyone can.