Monday, September 30, 2013

Arbitrary indeed...

A friend and colleague, Ed Jarose, is fighting the battle of his life...for his life. I just returned from Rio de Janeiro to read Judith Hester Thompson's chronicle of the sad events that occurred this past weekend in the lives of Ed and his life-partner Gerry Aubert. I visited Ed on-and-off while he was hospitalized in The Woodlands earlier this year. I came away in awe of his spirit and with respect for this kind, gentle, caring, giving human being. 

In June, I wrote this when one of the "topics of the day" on Facebook was COMPLAINTS:

"While on the subject of complaints, I would like to relate a situation to everyone that involves a friend and colleague of ours. He's been away from us for years now with a debilitating degenerative muscular disease, similar to ALS (although his diagnosis is related, it is NOT ALS.) Of late, he's spent the last 11+ weeks hospitalized at the Houston Medical Center, then St. Luke's in the Woodlands (to be closer to his partner and home in Spring) and briefly at an in-patient rehabilitation center in The Woodlands. His immediate trouble is chronic and recurring pneumonia brought on and exacerbated by the weakness in his muscles...the muscles that are controlled autonomically...those that control breathing, swallowing, heartbeat, etc. Obviously his situation is grave. But everyday, this incredible survivor exercises his free will and makes choices.

Every time I've been to visit, he chooses to be bright, smiling, warm, welcoming, and HAPPY! That's right, H A P P Y ! Don't ask me why, because I frankly can't fathom it. No person I know has more right to COMPLAIN but I've never heard him do it: he compliments the hospital, the staff, his friends, his employer, his loving and devoted partner. He is genuinely pleased to see you, to know that you made a few minutes in your "busy" day to show your concern for him and his well-being.

The last time I visited, I violated my own rules about complaining and recounted how the day before, it had taken us HALF of the Dreamliner fleet (3 out of 6 airplanes) and a delay of 4 hours to get to LAX on a simple turn! I immediately regretted it. He looked at me wistfully and said, "it sounds like heaven to me! I'd give anything to be at work instead of here!" Needless to say, I wasn't very proud of myself that day.

So I'm going to ask you to do me and our friend a favor. The next time you schlep out to the airport to fly some "horrible" trip, or the catering isn't right, or a customer doesn't treat you the way you think s/he should, or you can't believe the new uniform you've been tasked with wearing, take a moment and remember our friend with aspiration pneumonia, a fresh PEG tube (for nutrition), and a not-very-rosy prognosis for the future. But above all, remember the story of how HAPPY that man is and how he would give ANYTHING to trade places with you!

I can think of no brighter, more compelling example of the sheer beauty of free will and choice than our colleague Ed Jarose. His life-partner, Gerry Aubert, is also a friend and colleague and a member of The Way FORWARD. If ever there were a "poster child" for our cause, I think that Gerry would agree that his amazing partner Ed would be the best candidate!

Be well Ed. May the Peace of our Lord be with you and Gerry now and always!"

Meditate, cogitate, say a prayer...whatever you do when our world is in jeopardy of losing one of it's gentle warriors whose life is such a beacon of right and light. 

Lord, hear our prayer...

The truly special among us are not the ones that raise their voices, make waves, attempt to make their presence known in every conceivable way.

No, the SPECIAL ones are those whose presence is like a feather on the unbroken surface of a serene pool; making no effort to have its beauty recognized.

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