03.24.20 – Ellipsis of Life

Journal entry by Vicki Bunke 

The ellipsis, a row of 3 dots, stands for an omitted section of text. It can also be used to represent an unfinished thought or simply a pause. I think we can all agree that we are currently living in an ellipsis. An ellipsis of life. The dizzying number of closures, cancellations, postponements, and ordered restrictions on our lives prompted by the COVD-19 pandemic just keeps growing. America, as we know it, is on pause. We are in an ellipsis of life.

As our family approaches two years living on this planet without Grace, I am reminded how familiar we are with the feeling and experience that is touching our entire globe. The experience of living in an ellipsis – the feeling of not knowing what might come next. The feeling of having one’s life placed on pause or hold because of an unwanted medical diagnosis.

Without question, a new life started for me on the day of Grace’s diagnosis and again several years later on the day of her death. I wish I could have learned these important life lessons taking a class or studying a book; but instead, I learned the painful and inspiring lessons firsthand.

I learned to be more accepting, tolerant, and inclusive, preferring to err on the side of grace and forgiveness than righteous indignation. I learned about context and perspective. I learned a new definition of community. And, I learned about random acts of generosity and kindness in the most unexpected places from the most unexpected people. I think perhaps that is what the rest of the world is beginning to learn as they confront on a global level what our family has confronted and experienced on a personal level.

Interestingly, over a month ago I redesigned the pictures and artwork on one of our family room walls. As can be seen by the accompanying photo, I placed a tambourine (inspired by Gaylyn Kelly’s sermon at Mt Bethel UMC from November 2019) in a shadow box. I planned to take this tambourine with me on each of the 14 stops of The Amazing Grace Swim Across America Tour 2020. I wasn’t quite sure what I would do with the tambourine, but I knew for certain that it would be worthy of displaying in a shadow box in the middle of our family room following this swim tour.

Look at what I wrote over a month ago on a yellow post-it note and placed on this un-used tambourine?

I wrote: Stay tuned…

Stay tuned…

Although it is difficult to know that an idea that was truly inspired – the idea of The Amazing Grace Swim Across America Tour 2020 – is on ‘Stay tuned…’ status, I know without a doubt that it will all work out. How do I know this? I know this because it wasn’t my idea in the first place. It was His.

I also know that each year almost 10 million people across the world die from cancer, of which 80,000 are children. As I type this, it is my understanding that 17,000 people across the globe have died from COVID-19. What is my point? It is definitely not to suggest that the COVD-19 pandemic is not important or life-changing.

I suppose on the almost-2-year anniversary of Grace’s death, I just want to remind everyone that many things are not placed on pause despite the mandated closures and restrictions due to COVID-19. And one of those things is cancer.

Telecommuting, distance learning, shelter-in-place orders, and social distancing might place a pause or hold on the spread of COVID-19, but it does not do a single thing to stop the fact that adults and children will continue to hear these 3 words even in the middle of this pandemic: You have cancer…

I used to think the punctuation of life begins and ends with an exclamation point. But what I have learned over the past handful of years is that the punctuation of life is more like the ellipsis. And during this particularly difficult Lenten Season for the world, I am reminded that the most important ellipsis occurred on Good Friday.

On Good Friday, death thought it had won. But instead, God said stay tuned…

Stay tuned…Easter is coming…the story never ends.

Knowing this gives me hope, as it should all of you.

Please stay healthy and inspired and don’t lose hope. Remember, there is always hope. Always. Hope has no finish line.

“When faith takes a journey, it packs a tambourine.” (Gaylyn Kelly)

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