How will we play this hand?

In between feedings and worrying about feedings, I was flipping around the airwaves when I briefly paused on a news show. I caught the end of a remembrance montage that honored some of the incredible people we lost in 2008. Randy Pausch was one of them.

If you haven’t seen his famous “Last Lecture,” I command you to go watch it RIGHT NOW. Whether you catch the long version he presented at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was a professor, or the short version that he shared on Oprah, you’ll be changed  by it. I was.

Randy Pausch, a very loving husband and father of three little ones, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given only months to live. With this lecture, which absolutely overflows with fatherly wisdom, humor, honesty, insight and an astoundingly positive attitude, he gives us all a great gift. Although it was initially presented under the title, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” it’s truly a guide to living well, and not just that, but living joyfully in the face of obstacles and even gut-wrenching misfortune. I first saw his talk many months ago, and watched it again today. In light of the situation with Stella, his words had a whole new meaning. He gave me a good smack on the forehead, actually.

He reminded me that I must choose to be a Tigger instead of an Eeyore. To allow Stella to paint rockets and elevator doors and whatever else she want on the walls of her room, if someday she wants to. And to see brick walls merely as opportunities to show just how much I care about and want something.

“We can not change the hand we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” There are so many more amazing quotes from Randy’s lecture, but to me, that one pretty much says it all. When I scale this massive bit of wisdom down, it applies to every aspect of what we are going through. From our overall attitude as parents, to our view of Stella’s feeding aversion, to how we respond to an individual feeding that doesn’t go well.

Randy’s grace in the face of what amounts to a death sentence left me in awe, and allowed me to put our situation into perspective. The tube and Stella’s feeding issue are unexpected twists in our story. A bit scary at times, sure. But it’s nothing we can’t handle. The tube can’t stop us from having fun, being silly, reading Goodnight Moon until it’s seared in our brains, going on long, lovely walks, and loving and enjoying each other’s company like crazy. It’s just a brick wall that we are going to smash down. Then we’ll dance on the debris.

(Thank you, Randy.)

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