31 May, 2022

Finding common ground

We’ve had visitors the last week, our first from overseas for over two years. It has been really lovely – family members with whom we laugh a lot, and are very relaxed. We’ve known each other since our first years at university, and have a lot of history. They, more than anyone else in the family, know my story (though not as much as you all know! Lol).

We talked and talked and talked. Their kids are grown now, but at one stage we were named their guardians (should anything happen), and they know we love them. I reflected (to myself) that it was nice to be included in discussions about the kids. At one stage I was talking with one of them, and my views were taken into account as legitimately as if I had had kids. (In fact, the words were “if you had kids this age, what would you want/think/do?”) The fact that I noticed this might show that it is rare. Or perhaps I am just a bit more aware of it these days. Anyway, it was a very natural conversation, and very much appreciated.

One of the two of them was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, and their prognosis is uncertain. We wondered at times if we would see them (I’m now using gender neutral pronouns for their privacy) again, and they wondered the same, and they wondered if they’d ever get back to New Zealand. The night before they left, the two of us got talking. They said that cancer had helped them appreciate the little things that might otherwise have passed them by, or that might not have happened at all. I mentioned that, although it is not the same, I’ve found many “gifts” from infertility, pregnancy loss, and not having children, and that I appreciate the different perspective and compassion and attitudes I now have or want to cultivate. They agreed, though didn't like the description as "gifts" instead calling them “blessings.” (We have very different spiritual lives.) The effect was the same, though.

We both appreciated that there can be silver linings to even some of the worst diagnoses and situations. All we can do is live the lives we have, as long as we are have them. To do anything else is a waste. And our lives are short.



  1. Mali, your last paragraph is so wise. You have been through the fire and emerged a sage. All because you chose to feel it all, process, and be happy.

  2. Trauma (e.g., infertility, cancer, etc.) has a way of reframing EVERYTHING. I'm glad you got to see your friends again and how special to be able to have that meaningful conversation.

    I love your picture! "Honour your experience. Allow yourself to be happy."

  3. I agree with Phoenix -- the more I learn about different kinds of trauma and hear other people's stories, the more I can see the things we share in common. I am so glad you had a nice visit!

  4. Yes, "live the lives we have, as long as we have them" -- not always an easy lesson to learn. I'm glad you had a good visit, and I'm sorry that your friend is facing uncertainty.