Why? When you love yourself you are good to yourself. You give yourself the best food you can afford, you care for your physical body with exercise, you avoid relationships and interactions with people who aren't good for you. You ensure your finances are stable so that you have options. In summation, you give yourself what you need and require. Does it mean that your life is perfect? Of course not! Does it mean that you will have everything you want? Nope! What it does mean is that you have met your own needs. You are fulfilled, whole and healthy. You don't HAVE to have other people in your life to make you feel whole and complete. You provide what you need to yourself.
I remember the last week of my father's life. At the time, I didn't know that he would be dead seven (7) days later. I arrived to see him on Friday. My mother told me that we had one more doctor's visit on Monday. I was confused but tried to be quiet. Daddy, mommy, my dad's two brothers and I, went to the doctor's office. Daddy couldn't walk well so his brothers assisted in getting him in and out of his wheelchair and into the car. Daddy was light and easy to lift. I know because I helped a bit to get him into the back seat.
His voice would leave him off and on but I learned a trick! I'd give daddy some water to drink and that seemed to help him speak better. My uncle's wheeled daddy into the office and I sat at his feet, waiting for our turn to see the doctor. I wheeled him in with my mom while my uncles remained in the waiting room, with the other patients and their loved ones.
The doctor looked at my dad and told him there was nothing else that could be done for him. My dad's voice started to go, so I got some water, and my mom gave him a sip. He asked, "Why not?" The doctor told him his health needed to stabilize before he could be put in any future trials.
Mommy told me to go and get my dad's wheelchair so we could get ready to go home. I obeyed and left to retrieve the chair. On the way back, I saw the doctor leaving the room where my mother and father remained. He came up to me, opened his mouth to speak and began to explain.
I don't know why, but I cut him off and put my hand up to stop him. I said, "You don't have to explain to me. I know that every time you have to tell your patient that you can't do anything else for them, that a piece of you dies along with them. I know that you have done all that you knew to do."
This dignified, elegant, well spoken African American doctor just looked at me and quietly nodded his head. He dropped his eyes and his shoulders wearily to the floor. He stepped away, turned his back and entered into his private office and gently shut the door. I watched him silently the entire time. I stared at the closed door for the briefest of moments. His nurse came up to me and touched me, which brought me back. She said, "That was God...what you said".
I pushed open the door where my father and mother were. My father was weeping and my mother held him in her arms to comfort him. I had never seen my daddy cry before and his tears punched me in the stomach. I gripped hard and tight to the handles of the wheelchair. My eyes went from his face to mother's and back to his. I left the room. Mommy got daddy back into the chair.
What happened next, I will never forget. My father dried his eyes and schooled his face. He made sure that when he passed through that office, filled with all those other scared but hopeful cancer patients, that he didn't steal away their hope. He thought of their needs. He looked as if nothing was wrong. No one in that waiting room had any idea that he had been told that his life was at the end.
Trusting in the wisdom of my father as always, I had followed suit and schooled my facial features as well. I saw the patients search my father's face and then my own face for clues to his prognosis, and ultimately, clues to their own prognosis.
At that moment, I was so proud of this man, my father. He thought of the needs of others. He put all those people before himself. He made a conscious decision not to steal their joy and hope by not letting them know about his situation. The only tell tale sign was that unlike before, my father was so heavy to lift. Before he was light and easy to lift, and now he seemed to weigh 10x more than before. My uncles strained and grunted getting him in the car. Again, I helped and I too felt his heaviness.
My daddy taught me many powerful lessons throughout my life and time with him. This lesson was one of the most powerful. During the last seven days of his life, I would be privvy to several more profound life lessons.
That day, my father showed me not in words, but in deed and action, that when you truly love and care for yourself, you will put the needs of others before your own. Learn to truly love yourselves, deeply and profoundly. Even in your darkest hours, you will have all that you need. Loving yourself takes time and understanding and will beautify you bit by bit.