In 1985 Marty McFly hit the big screen for the first time. Back to the Future was epic, with its DeLorean time travel machine, flux capacitor and crazy Doc screeching, “1.21 Gigawatts!”. Marty finds himself in 1955 and has to get back to the future whilst ensuring his parents still fall in love.The whole concept of the film pivots around ‘What if?’What if his mum falls for him instead of his dad and never makes it to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance? What if they never kiss and Marty and his siblings never exist?
Everyday life is full of ‘what ifs’. Most of them are inconsequential and decisions are made without a fanfare. At other times, however, what could have happened hangs above us like large black clouds changing the whole climate and weather system of our lives.
‘What if she hadn’t got on that plane?’
‘What if he had left in the car ten minutes later?’
‘What if I had gone to hospital the first time I noticed my baby not moving?’
One minute and one decision can lead to a whole stream of ‘what ifs’ that entice us down a road of expectation and assumption.
In the days and weeks after my eldest son’s MRI scan confirmed the dramatic and widespread damage to his brain, my mind and emotions were gripped with what could have been. If he had been born a day or two earlier would he have been born without complication, a fit and well baby?
When he was born it was as though the long film reel of the life I had been dreaming and anticipating was abruptly sheared by a pair of large scissors. Instead of my future being neatly rolled up just waiting to unfurl, the story of my life dangled precariously in the air. I simply couldn’t see the future before me; nothing remained the same.
I had to relearn living with a new perspective.
Firstly I had to mourn. I grieved the baby I had hoped and prayed for. It is absolutely right to mourn the loss of a person, relationship or situation. It can take months, years or a lifetime of living with grief; often it leaves us changed.
The forecast of my life, however, began changing when I stopped dwelling on the alternate universe that only ever happened in my mind. I came to realise I had stopped mourning what had happened and was instead mourning what hadn’t happened. I was mourning something that was never mine in the first place; something that only ever occurred in my imagination.
My husband’s perspective was very different; he asserted that there was never a world where our son wasn’t born with severe brain damage. He reminded me that along with all of my brighter, more glossy, scenarios, there were just as many worse options.
It is only fairly recently that I could say both of my sons were ‘Born at the Right Time’. That doesn’t mean what happened was ‘right’, nor does it mean it doesn’t make me sad or at times is incredibly difficult, rather it means that I changed.
My perspective changed.
I kind of see it a lot like prayer. I don’t see prayer as me cajoling, haranguing or persuading God to make my life and world a better place. I see praying as me trying to hear and see what God is doing in the world around me, and joining in. It’s about me becoming the hands, words and love of God with whoever and wherever I am.
I came to seeing it as ‘right’ because I allowed my perspective and view to come in line with my reality. I made a decision to trust God with not only the good in my life but the pain and mess also.
What I found was, when I learnt to live in the reality of today, and not the expectations of my imagination, I had the potential to be healed.
There is a sign on the side of a building I pass on the drive to Great Ormond Street Hospital. It says,“Sorry the lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock.”When I realised the lifestyle I had ordered wasn’t in stock I had to make a choice. I either sit in the shop and moan, groan and stamp my feet, or I look around at the different, yet beautiful things in stock, and learn to “Love the skies I’m under.”* For me it has been a vital step in acceptance.
*Mumford and Sons song “Hopeless Wanderer”
If you would like to follow my blog just click on the ‘follow’ icon at the bottom right hand corner of the page and complete your email address. You will then be notified by email every time I publish a new post.
This is my fav of your posts so far! You have made it so clear and it is so true…our expectations and perspective about a situation determine our emotional response. Im really enjoying your blog. You respond to your situation with honesty and love. Looking forward to the next post!
Thanks Janice, I’ve always been one for imagining and re-imaging what life was going to be like next. I’m not sure I like why I now live more in today but I do love being more mindful about the people, places and experiences I’m actually having rather than what I think may happen. Love and prayers to you and yours x
What a journey you are on . I look forward to reading your blogs . Lots of love mag and joe xxx
Another great blog. As I’ve said before, what is so authentic about your writing is that you walk the walk, and the things you talk about are based on tough experiences. There are no platitudes here. I wondered if we’re allowed to post questions or thoughts that you might develop further in future blogs?!! I’ll await a response before posting any! Lots of love, and keep writing. A xxx
Thanks Alex. It would be great if others shared their thoughts and we could engage in a conversation about how these things affect how we live or try to live
And of course future blog ideas are more than welcome….. X
i too often wonder what if
november the 8th 2005 i am laying on a bed in st thomass hospital london
i hear sounds of a babies heart beat drumming along sounds amazing but suddenly the beat starts to slow down not knowing at that time it was joshs heart going into a arrest and the start of a journey that has had a massive impact on our family i have never told anyone about this but i lived with the fact that if i had pressed the emergency button when i first heard that the heart beat had slowed down what if what if i just go through this every day and night josh is a wonderful young lad with many many complex conditions and in the net ten days his life could be transformed with continuos care i just hope and pray he gets some justice i will end this wee note by saying what if eh