My sister is sick. It’s cancer, and it’s well along. It was hiding and gaining strength for some time before it showed itself. And it showed itself only a couple months ago.
She is doing all the right things. She is consulting doctors, reaching out to family and friends, undergoing painful surgery, working in rehab, and preparing for chemotherapy.
Yet as terrifying as this all could be, as anxiety-inducing, nerve-wracking, scary as hell as this all could be, she is calm. She is calm when the nurse asks her to sit up on the edge of the bed, when she knows the movement of her surgical wounds will ignite fire in her abdomen. She is calm as she waits in a wheelchair for an ambulatory team to arrive in a transport van. She is calm as the nausea prevents her from eating. She is calm when she greets friends and family. She is calm when they go. She is always grateful for the companionship.
I’ve flown down to Maryland a couple times to visit. I don’t really know what to do. I just show up, listen, drive her places, attend doctor meetings, listen to nurses talk about medications, buy her green smoothies and hope it helps.
For those around her this is a terrifying time, and yet she is a calming presence. It’s quite remarkable. She is teaching those who love her to remain calm, to focus, to be resilient, to persevere. To breathe.
I called yesterday and she told me what a nice view she has from her window. I called the day before and she told me how pleasant everyone at the rehab center was. Her voice never betrays any sense of fear, or anxiety, or foreboding. A couple weeks ago I asked her that question. I asked her if she was afraid of all of this, if she was scared.
She said no. She said whatever will happen, will happen. She is leading us. She is showing everyone around her not to freak out.
It is an act of love to be at the epicenter of a storm and yet tell everyone that things are going to be OK, that things are going to be all right, whatever may happen. When we are faced with adversity, and have the capacity to calm those around us, that is an powerful gift of generosity and caring.
Shawn Hunter is President and Founder of Mindscaling, a company building beautiful online learning courses based on the work of best-selling authors. My new book Small Acts of Leadership, (Routledge) just released. You can grab a copy now. Have a meeting coming up? Let’s talk.