SURRENDER IS NOT GIVING UP, BUT RATHER ACCEPTING WHAT IS
It was August 3, 2010.
A normal, calm, sunny morning in Los Angeles. My son and I drove to the hospital for his tonsillitis surgery, a routine operation, in and out within a few hours.
7:30 am. They took him in as expected; the doctor reassured me that by 8:30-9:00 am, he should be out and into recovery.
So I made myself comfortable in the waiting room. I had my book, my phone, and my coffee…I was set and eagerly waiting for the clock to hit the 9:00 o’clock mark.
9:00 o’clock came and went, half an hour past, then an hour; as the hours past so did my calmness. A sense of worry filled my body as I kept going to the nurse’s station to get the latest news on my son. I received the canned answer, “he’s still in surgery, it is taking longer than expected, please be patient”.
Patience was now the last thing I had, my stomach was churning, I could feel sweat forming in the palm of my hands, my heart was racing; I tried to comfort myself with reason, “so it’s taking a little longer than usual, no worries, stay calm…” My reassuring self-talk would calm me down for about 30 seconds and then I was back at the nurse’s station, “Eh, any news?”. Again the nurse replied, “Still in surgery, it is taking longer than expected, please be patient”.
12:45 pm. By this time, I’m managing a pounding headache while holding back tears, clutching my teeth, needing to remind myself to breathe. Once again I found myself at the nurse’s station. “They are finishing up the surgery, it should be done soon,” the nurse told me with no expression of empathy or concern, almost robot like.
This was enough information for me to let out a sigh of relief, I could breathe again, my eyes fixed on the clock at the back of the nurse’s station. Each second was an eternity.
1:00 pm. Finally, the doctor came out of the surgery room towards me, “Everything is OK, it took longer than expected because….. “it didn’t matter what came after “because” at that moment, all I needed to hear was that he was OK. “CAN I SEE HIM?”
“Yes, in about ten minutes,” the doctor replied.
Hastily I started calling my husband to give him the good news. I could hear the joy and the relief in his voice. “OK, see you in a bit,” I said.
As I began to walk towards the recovery room, my life, my perspective on life, all that I had experienced and labeled as bad, good, right, or wrong was about to be forever changed.
The deafening siren of code blue, the rushing of doctors and nurses running to the recovery room, the panic on their faces that still gives me chills to this day. I became numb, literally paralyzed, because a mother knows when her child is in danger.
I grabbed the first nurse on my path.
“Excuse me, can you tell me if my son is OK?”
“Oh, Mam I don’t know; sorry but we have an emergency, I really have to go.”
I ran to the second nurse guarding the entry to the recovery room, “Excuse me, can you tell me if my son is OK? Can I go see him?”
Again, “sorry mam, we are having an emergency, I can’t let you in.”
“YES, I know. THE EMERGENCY YOU ARE HAVING IS RELATED TO MY SON.”
“Who’s your son?”
“YES, that’s who the doctors are working on.”
“IS HE, IS HE…ALIVE?”
“SORRY, can’t tell you that. You have to clear the way for the emergency crew.”
As I collapsed into the nurse’s arm, I am not sure if my legs gave in first or if it was my head spinning out of control. I don’t remember anything from that moment on until I was in a room away from the commotion all by myself. As the nurse helped me sit on the sofa, she bent over and whispered in my ear, be patient.
The agonizing pain I was going thru was real, the uncertainty of the situation was out of my control. As much as I pleaded with God, the universe, and the source, this was the moment I had to endure.
This was my reality
No words, no action
Nothing could be done for now
Surrender was the only way
To many, myself included, up until that point, surrender meant giving up. It meant waving a white flag in defeat. It meant declaring a loss. But now, rather at that moment, I realized the state of acceptance for what is happening in a given moment that was completely out of my control. I realized in order to face it fully I had to allow the moment to unfold, no matter how painful it was.
No amount of self- agony, no amount of self- pity could change what was happening at that moment.
Accepting that the pain was real, the anguish of not knowing was real, that the shutting down of my body and the uncontrollable shaking was real; this was the moment of surrender.
Every cell of my body was holding on to hope, every bit of the strength I had left in my body was fixed on praying to see my son well and healthy again. Yet, I knew deep inside that there was a chance it wouldn’t go the way I was begging for it to be.
Surrendering is NOT GIVING UP ON LIFE, but GIVING UP ON FIGHTING WITH LIFE
You see, no matter how many times I asked “WHY?” or questioned the logic or the fairness; it would not have changed my circumstance. I was fighting with reality; I was saying NO to what was presented to me. Yes, ALL that I was feeling and asking was true, but what could I have done at that moment to change any of it? Nothing…Absolutely nothing.
Surrender is saying “yes.” “Yes, I accept that this is a dreadful and awful situation, I accept that this is happening. I accept that I am going through a colossal amount of negative emotions without losing hope.
After what seemed like an eternity, sitting in that sterile, cold room, I felt a gentle touch on my shoulder. As I turned around, a man in a white coat gently smiled and said, “Mrs. Sadigh your son is ok. He had complications with the medication, but he is ok now, you can see him in the recovery room in 10 minutes.”
Tears of joy filled my face.
I am forever thankful for the ending to this unfortunate story of mine. But what if it didn’t turn as it thankfully had?
As hard as it is to write about it again, the only way forward is to accept whatever hand we are dealt with. We accept and move forward.
The new normal starts with surrender, with trusting something bigger than yourself; to know that you will once again rise up no matter what the end result may be, and no matter how tragic.
Acceptance is not possible in the midst of a tragedy, but it’s the way out of it. It is the way to move forward.
Horrible things happen to all of us every day, asking why, will keep you suck in pain; asking how will help you find peace.
What I learned from my tragic experience:
- Life as I knew it could change in a blink of an eye
- The only moment I have is NOW
- To be grateful for all the things that bring me joy
- Stop complaining
- Accept that horrible things can happen at any given moment
- Trusting that no matter what the situation is, I will find a way to move forward
- Life is precious, enjoy every second of it
May all your challenges end on a positive note.