Some Gifts I’d Love to Return

My last post where I said tough times are “lesson-rich” may have come across as glib. It wasn’t meant to be. While I believe challenging times are indeed lesson-rich and hold gifts for us, there are quite frankly some gifts I would have loved to return.

In recent years my Beloved lost her thyroid to cancer, went through a breast cancer scare shortly afterwards, our daughter was diagnosed with an “incurable” disease that nearly killed her and put her in intensive care for weeks and the hospital for over a month requiring many blood transfusions and for much of that time we didn’t know whether she was going to live or die, and an 18 year old business that I’d founded and ran died.

I share these “lesson-rich” gifts with you to show that when I use those words I truly understand how much pain, fear, despair, grief, etc, can accompany them—or at least I know how much my family and I experienced them.

As each of those challenges were happening I’d have gladly returned those “lesson-rich gifts” or exchanged them for an end of the pain, fear, despair, and grief.

But as my family and I survived each of these difficulties, we grew stronger, more confident that we can face whatever life throws at (err, I mean “offers to”) us. We are better people for having gone through such times.

And I’d be perfectly happy not receiving any more such lesson-rich gifts for a long, long time.


About russtowne

I'm awed by the beauty of nature and the power of love and gratitude. Some of my favorite sensory experiences include waves crashing on rocky shores, waterways in ancient redwood and fern-filled forests, and rain. My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. I manage a wealth management firm that I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of approximately 60 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children.
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9 Responses to Some Gifts I’d Love to Return

  1. mindfuldiary says:

    wow, that’s is a lot you and your family have gone through. Can relate to the “return of the gift”. It is never a gift when somebody you love, goes through something so hard as sickness. Glad you all made it stronger to the “all is good” side. One of the best quotes I have ever heard is “This too shall pass”. You can apply it in difficult times, which I guess is rather well known, but it can also be used in good times….this too shall pass….to remind ourselves to embrace, enjoy and celebrate the good in our life 100 % while we have the good times. Thanks for sharing.

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Kristi! I appreciate your reminder!

      I too use the “This too shall pass” phrase as a reminder that it is wise to enjoy every drop of the delicious juice of the good times because sooner or later I’ll be drinking a very bitter brew indeed.

      For those drinking the bitter brew right now, may the sweetness of kindness and compassion from others–and from yourself–help to make the experience more palatable.


  2. mimijk says:

    There have been times in all of our lives where the lessons are wrought with so much pain and fear that their meaning doesn’t appear until we find ourselves breathing again. The celebration of your beloved’s health, your daughter’s well being – the gratitude and closeness that come from these, the most awful of nightmares. I am equally moved by your beautiful words to Kristi “For those drinking the bitter brew…”, for sometimes it is just that compassion and care that get people through until they too can realize the lessons learned. You my friend, are nothing short of remarkable. I am still so, so appreciative that our cyber-paths have crossed!

    • russtowne says:

      I’m deeply touched by your message. Your spirit shines brightly through your comment. I find myself re-reading your message to fully savor all of its richness. I especially loved your first sentence which so wonderfully expresses the relief as the dark times begin to pass: “..until we find ourselves breathing again”.

      Thank you for your kind message. I believe that the extent to which you admire goodness and beauty in others, is a direct reflection of the beauty and goodness within you.

      I too am grateful that our cyber-paths have crossed.


      • mimijk says:

        It’s how I felt a few years the span of three years, my dad passed away the week before my son left for Baghdad (he was gone a year). The day he returned, the Red Cross had to fly him to NJ to say his good byes to my mom. I would email Matt while he was gone and write (‘when you breathe, I breathe – it’s just like that”)…and to this day Russ, I have almost no memories that I can evoke of those years of loss and fear – I can touch the feelings, raw and exposed though they still are – but no memories that are solid enough to even be deemed slightly reliable.
        I would like to believe that I reflect goodness, though I would not want to diminish your warmth and generous spirit by considering it a reflection of anything other than who you are. And that’s pretty darn special.

        • russtowne says:

          Thank you, Mimi. I am truly taking what you say to heart and am warmed by your comments.

          I believe we are all prety darn special. Thank you for reminding me of the beauty of the spirit in me. I sometimes forget.

          I’m glad that Matt came home safely, and am saddened to learn of the loss of your parents.


  3. Elyse says:

    I agree, Russ. Life is wonderful, lemons become lemonade, etc. etc. But some stuff is more challenging than others. Glad your wife is OK.

    For your daughter, I just now read a blog that I feel really captures Crohn’s: Sometimes it is difficult to explain how it feels. This post does is well, in my opinion.

  4. russtowne says:

    Thank you, Elyse. I did find that article to be pretty accurate description of what my daughter deals with or faces in the future. When my daughter suffers a relapse it tends to involve chemo, heavy steroids, and some other pretty awful drugs. She deals with so much with her strong spirit and grace. We were blessed when she came into our lives.


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