Something to hold on to...

"Today I am one day nearer home than ever before. One day nearer the dawning when the fog will lift, mysteries clear, and all question marks straighten up into exclamation points!
 I shall see the King!"     Vance Havner

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Unexpected Tears

I don't know if you have ever read "The Last Leaf" , the old short story by O. Henry, but it was brought to my mind today and has made quite an impact.

Today at school our class was heading down the hall to go to the gym to attend an honor assembly. When we rounded the first corner and passed by the glass enclosed courtyard I could see leaves fluttering by. Although there are no trees in that courtyard the wind had caused quite a mass of leaves swirling around. Out of the blue I thought of that short story, and equally as surprising, my eyes welled up with tears. I was glad that I was bringing up the rear of the line because those tears would have been hard to explain. I am actually still processing what brought them on.

To make that short story even shorter, and in no way do it justice, I will give a brief description in case you are not familiar with it. I may not be completely accurate with my version of this wonderful story, but you will get the main idea. If you are able, track it down and read it.

In the story 2 friends, both artists share a studio apartment in a building where other artists have chosen to live. One of the friends is seriously stricken with pneumonia and has convinced herself that she will surely die. The doctor knows that she has given up and tells the other friend how grave the situation is because of that fact. The woman with pneumonia even convinces herself that she will die as the last leaf falls from the ivy vine outside their apartment window. Not able to convince her otherwise, her friend pulls the shade so the sick friend will at least stop looking out the window and counting the leaves. Another artist in the building comes to visit then paints a few hours while both women are sleeping. The next day the sick woman begs her friend to raise the blind and notices that one leaf is still hanging on. All day and all night the leaf remains, even through a blustery wind and rain. This convinces the sick woman that she has been foolish to give up, and if that leaf can hang on, then she can as well. Immediately she starts eating and becoming better.

They later find out that their other friend has died suddenly in the hospital of pneumonia after having it just 2 days. A discovery is soon made of a ladder outside their window, and what they thought was the last leaf hanging on the vine was actually a painting of such placed lovingly in the window by their friend after the last leaf really fell. It was felt that he contracted pneumonia while out in that rain to place the painting against their window.

Why did that make me cry suddenly? The more I have processed it today I have drawn these conclusions for myself:

1. Attitude is everything. This woman did not believe she would make it and convinced herself of that fact.

I realize that I have had both a heart attack and cancer in the last 5 months and I truly believe that having faith and trying to have a positive attitude has helped tremendously. I need a positive attitude now as well to get through any lingering pain issues.

2. Friends make a huge difference. If it were up to her, in her darkest hour, this woman would have given up. She convinced herself that she would die, but her friends would not let her have her way.

I was surrounded by friends and family that offered me strength when mine was wavering. They offered encouragement when I was low. They gave me a gift of a "last leaf" in so many ways. Whatever my needs were, they were met.

3. God uses many things to get our attention. We need to be close enough to hear Him whisper, and close enough to see a message from a swirling bit of leaves when He wants to tell us something. I was so taken back by the sudden tears. I am not usually like that. It was as if God was saying, "Anita, pay attention, this is another one of my teachable moments, please don't miss what I am trying to tell you."

4. We / I need to be the type of friend that discovers what a person really, really needs to get through a situation and go out of the way to provide it.

What type of "last leaf" could we offer?

1 comment:

Dawn said...

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for your post. I happened on your blog via Ang (in Washington) blog. Your post has touched me deeply. I believe God uses us sometimes to help others see things that need seen. As well as he uses things to make us see things we need to see. I too am a survior (cancer) mixed molarina (spelling)sarcoma.... and God has touched my life so profoundly ..... The post is awesome thank you for sharing