There is a Silver Lining, Right?

silver lining

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.” – C.S. Lewis

Almost everyone today has someone, or knows of someone, going through the experience of cancer or a life threatening illness.  I am no different.

In 2009, my sister was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and my world turned upside down for a while.

When I was first told about the diagnosis, I went through a period of shock and disbelief, before anger and deep sadness took over.  At the time, the question I asked was the same one many others have asked, “Why?”

Cancer is a word none of us want to hear.

But we do!

When my elder sister was diagnosed, I had only been back in Canada for 5 months, after an absence of 26 years.  During that time, I had lived and worked overseas and visited my family for a month of more, every couple of years.  I do not believe it was a coincidence that pulled me back to my homeland at this particular time.

For over a year I felt the pull but, resisted.  I did not think I was ready to return but, the Divine had other plans.

After receiving the news, I travelled to the province where my sister lived.  We had always been very close, and because of an age difference of 17 years, I often regarded her as a second mother.

My plan at the time was to stay for a month or two to give her and her family moral support.

Well, one month became two, two months became four, then the request.  “Would you please stay with me?” my sister asked.  How could I refuse?

It just so happened that my summer job had come to an end and I hadn’t yet found another position.  This as well as several other considerations made my decision easy.

Yes, I would stay.

So began a two-year journey for my sister, my brother-in-law, their family, and myself.  Over the next two years my brother-in-law and I became the primary caregivers;  me during the day and him at night.

For me personally, it was a time of great compassion and self-awareness.  For the first time in many, many years, I was completely focused on someone else instead of myself.

It was on this journey with my sister through the high and lows, the good and bad, and the happy and sad, that I had to reach into the depth of my soul.  I can truly say this was the most difficult thing I have ever done.  I often had to remind myself that God does not give us more than we can handle.

In the end, there was a silver lining hidden in this difficult journey.

It was only after my sister transitioned back to spirit that I saw the many gifts she had given me.

Gems from my sister:

 1. Honour the fact, that this is their journey not yours.

This was very difficult for me because I all wanted to do was make her comfortable, ease the pain, and lessen the suffering.  She taught me that there were somethings I could not do for her.  They belonged to her journey not mine. I had to honour my beloved’s journey and step to the side.

2. It was not about me. 

There were several times at the beginning of our journey together when I would get upset, angry, or sad.  My sister would look at me and ask, “Why are you so upset?  Are you upset for me or yourself?   If you are upset for me, don’t be?  If you are upset for yourself, look inside to see why?”  There was a lot of wisdom in these questions. I discovered that my emotions were about me, and for me.  For example , when I was sad it was for me.  I did not want to let my sister go.

3. Let go of the outcome. 

When you know your time is limited you look at each day differently.  My sister and I laughed as much as we could.  We found great hats and scarves for her. We went for car rides.  Had pedi and manicures.  Played with the grandkids.  Had dinner for the family.  We made each day count.  We did not dwell on the outcome.  What would be, would be!  The journey we were sharing was more important than the destination.

4. Live Life Fully. 

None of us knows when, or if, illness or tragedy will arrive.  Nor do know when our time in this reality will end.  Because of that, we should not wait to live.  Why defer a dream?  Why wait to do something special?  Why wait to feel alive and vibrant? So many people wait for the right time or having enough money.  For me living life fully means getting out my comfort zone and taking a few risks.  What would it look like for you?

5. Don’t be afraid to love and express your love.  

I feel so blessed that I had two years to show and express my love for my sister.  So many others are not given that chance.  The love I express now for my family and dear ones is so much deeper than it was before.  Who is your sphere needs to hear you say, ‘I love you?’

6. We come into the world with nothing and we leave with nothing. 

At the end of our earthly journey we leave as we came. We do not take our physical shell, our house, our clothes, our cars, our bank accounts, or our gadgets.  We take nothing.  I wonder why we spend so much time and energy gathering and protecting them.  Could clutter be keeping you from enjoying your life?

 7. In the end I learned that we are not our physical bodies, we are spirit. 

Yes, it is true, we are spirit having a physical experience. The spirit of my sister lives on in my memories.  Since she departed I have had many moments where I think, “She would have liked this.” I think she would like the fact that I am sharing this with you.

* * *

I feel very honoured that my sister asked me to join her for this, her last journey.  Through it all, there were two journeys, her’s and mine.  Both profound!

Every trial that comes our way is an opportunity to grow and thrive.  It is all in the way you look at it.  You can either see it as a burden to endure or you can view it as an experience to discover new treasures within.  It is all in our perception!

Do you grin and bear adversity, or do you look for the silver lining waiting to be uncovered?

Life is a journey comprising of experiences that are designed to help us grow.  Live life to the fullest and with passion, enjoying what you find along the way.

Photo by natur.echt

23 thoughts on “There is a Silver Lining, Right?”

  1. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. Your sister sounds like she was a very wise soul. I believe that most of us don’t start to see the true value in life until a major upset happens, like losing a loved one. We only have one chance to live this life and so many of us waste it by saying we’ll be happy later instead of living life fully right now, like you stated in #4.
    I have been changing my views on life and working towards living a life that is fulfilling. We all have excuses about why we can’t make a change right now, which is what I recently posted about
    As you said, at the end of this life we are just spirit and our material possessions do not matter. So, it’s better to live fully now rather than wait for a time that may never come. Thank you again for posting your story!

    1. Thank you Carissa for your comment. We only have one life and it is short. Best not to wait to live and enjoy. Great that you are taking charge of your life and living more fully. There is nothing stopping us, as you wrote in your article. Be in joy now!

      1. Hi Carolynne,It seems your sister was a very strong n positive lady….her views of life has given me so much of positivity n strength that yes only we can make our life worth living.

  2. You are right. Live fully now. Enjoy the today that you have for there is something to learn from it. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. I had a similar experience with my mother last year. I was devastated when she passed on. I have regained the joy in life that she shared so fully with me when she was here.

    I look forward to being with her again when it is my time.

  4. Thanks for sharing such a perosnal story. I’m always amazed at how things come together. A couple of years ago I was able to take career break just at the time it became clear that my father was terminally ill. The gift of time at that difficult period was of such great value.

  5. Carolynne,

    Thank you so much for sharing, it’s never a coincidence when we hear what we need to hear when we hear it. I can totally relate to your story having experienced this battle with my mom twice. She first had lung cancer about 15yrs ago and lost a lobe on her right with an outcome of gratitude. She had no need for chemo or radiation; it was caught early enough and removed.. So we thought. 10yrs later the cancer returned on the left and she had another lobe removed and all in one attempt it was removed no chemo no radiation.

    My mom is still here by the grace of God and it hasn’t been easy for her losing her only son 8yrs ago. He has transitioned to spirit but lives in our hearts daily till we meet again. I will keep the gems from your sister as a reminder when I’m feeling like it’s about me and why bad things happen to good people.

    Thanks again,

    1. Hi Sharon,
      Thank you so much for sharing. Your mother was given a blessing with her health. I am sorry that she had to lose her son. It is so difficult to lose a child. Every trial has a hidden gift for us to find. Stay strong and remember it is not about you. It is just part of the ebb and flow of life, albeit not easy. Blessings.

  6. Wonderful words of wisdom, Carolynne. I’ve watched more than one person I love struggle and I think you’ve conveyed these life lessons beautifully. Thank you.

  7. First time I am going to write comment on this site, just cause I want to express the feelings I feel. This is most soulful and heart touching story that reminds me of my grandmother whom I lost a month ago, her absence makes me feel the same as you use to feel about your sister.

    1. Dear Jaswant,
      I am sorry to hear you lost your grandmother. There is something about letting go of someone dear to us that helps us see that which is really important. I am so happy you have found it too.

  8. Dear Carolynne,

    Thanks for sharing a thought provoking story.You gave me an opportunity to revisit the past and to make changes to live life to the fullest.

    1. TA you are very welcome. I am so happy you have found it useful and are able to make some life changes. I really believe that those who pass teach us how to live more fully. Enjoy a fulfilled life.

  9. Hi Carolynne,

    I can totally relate to how you feel since my grandma passed on last year. It was a heartbreaking experience for me since her death was very sudden. One minute she was here and the next minute she was gone. It has taught me to cherish everyday and live life to the fullest since I may not know when I will live this earth.

    However, I always believed that every thing happens for a reason. And it is always for our higher good. There is always a lesson for me to learn from every event that takes place in my life. I just have to dig deeper to uncover the precious lessons and learn from them. That reminds me of your last lesson, “We are spiritual beings having a human experience”.


    1. Hi Edmund,
      Although it is difficult when someone leaves so suddenly, there is a gift in it too. I am happy you are able to see the gift. Yes, things happen for a reason and sometimes it only our higher good that understands. Everything has a purpose. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Carolynne, thank you for sharing such a beautiful and moving story! Your sister sounds like she was a wonderful and wise person. Thank you for sharing the wisdom that she passed on to you, and giving us the chance to reflect on these points.

    1. Hi Nick,
      Thank you for your kind words. Yes, my sister was a wonderful person. I am happy that you are able to reflect on these gifts. Adversity is there to make us stronger but only if we look at it from another angle. Life is a wonderful experience. Enjoy!

  11. I very much enjoyed this beautiful article. I haven’t had to face a situation like that. However, the best part of this story is that it can relate to any relationship and enhance them to the highest possible level. Thank you so much for sharing :)

    1. Hi Joe,
      I really appreciate your comment. Many our life lessons are transferable and this one is no different. You are right, you can use what I learned to enhance any and all relationships. My greatest wish is that they serve you well. Be in joy!

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