Coy Cross became a client of mine last year, 2012. Upon our first conversation I knew I wanted to work with him and then I read his book, The Dhance, which I consider a must read for everyone. Coy's story inspires all ages. For me personally reading his book helped me to understand how my fiance's father may feel as the caregiver of his wife and the book has guided me to find meaning among challenges in my own life rather than just complaining about them. Here is a wonderful excerpt from The Dhance:
While Carol is busy at her office, I meet my friend Greg, Shirley’s husband, at the nearby Peet’s coffee shop. For the past 25 years, Carol has been my confidante and the one with whom I could always share my deepest fears. But now I have to have someone, besides Carol or our immediate family, with whom I can express, not only my worries and my concerns about Carol’s survival, but my doubts about my own ability to cope.
As Greg and I talk, I remind him that in 1982 my previous wife Helen was seriously injured in an auto accident and I cared for her, four children and a business. I “dealt with” the pain by numbing myself with alcohol. A year later, emotionally and physically exhausted, I considered suicide and only my love for my children and my elderly mother kept me from doing so. But I left the marriage and did not “finish the job.”
Four years later Jan, my first wife and the mother of my three children, died in an auto accident and four days later my dad died from a stroke. Again, I “coped” with alcohol and “stuffing” my feelings. When an intruder murdered my dear friend and mentor Carol Ruth Knox four months later, alcohol and stuffing was my preferred method of “dealing.” By 2001 when another car wreck killed my 19 year-old grandson Matt I had learned not the numb with alcohol, but I still “stuffed” my feelings. This time has to be different.
This time is different. I now have friends like Greg and the guys in our men’s group, who will help me keep a better perspective. Our adult children are also available and very supportive. Also, I know I can’t heal Carol. Greg helps me understand my greatest gift to her is “to be consciously present.” I can “be.” I can consciously be myself and continue loving her. I can consciously be present with and support her. I can simply sit and consciously be present with her. Leaving the coffee shop I have more confidence about my role in supporting her and I realize at the same time I must release responsibility for the outcome. No matter what I do, she could die. But how this “all turns out is none of my business.” I must play my part to the best of my ability. I am well aware that this last twenty-four hours has already changed my life forever.
As I reach Carol’s office, I pause outside and talk to God for a moment. “Okay, there is a pattern here. Obviously, you have an important spiritual lesson for me. I promise to stay conscious and open and learn what you are teaching. I don’t want to have to take this class again.” At the same time, I am aware of the magnitude of the blessing that this experience offers. This is a moment of great insight for me: feeling great pain at the very real possibility of losing the woman I deeply love, while seeing on a higher level the spiritual growth opportunity this presents for both Carol and me.
ABOUT DR. COY F. CROSS II
Dr. Coy F. Cross II is a retired historian but his greatest contribution may be as a caregiver to his wife Carol as she struggled with ovarian cancer. Coy’s book, The Dhance: A Caregiver’s Search for Meaning, details his transformation from helpless fear to loving caregiver as he struggled to put his spiritual practices to use in his life. Now he speaks to groups about how he uses ‘practical spirituality’ to find meaning in his life, no matter what the circumstances. Coy often says, “You may not like what is happening in your life, but accepting it is the first step towards tapping into your divine source where your best solutions reside.”
The Dhance is available on amazon.com and at bookstores everywhere as well as from Coy’s website: http://thedhance.com/