Making Waves with Hope: “Stay Tuned…” When Life is Put on Hold” by Vicki Bunke

Hope Header2Making Waves with Hope is a series of inspiring messages by leaders in the Swim Across America community during this uncertain time. Vicki Bunke is an active member in the SAA-Atlanta community and is the mother of ‘Amazing’ Grace Bunke, the top national SAA fundraiser in 2018. Grace sadly passed away in March 2018 from osteosarcoma. You can read more about the Bunke family here.

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.

Our family recently passed the second anniversary of living on this planet without Grace. As such, I am reminded how familiar we are with the feelings and experiences that are 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. The feeling of having to wait.

If you were to take a poll of the least popular things to do, waiting would probably be near the top. It is probably one of the few things that nobody likes but everybody does. Because if you think about it, we are always waiting for something. Sometimes for things that are coming imminently, sometimes for things that are a little way off, and sometimes we wait for things which we have no idea if they will ever come or happen.

This pandemic reminds me that the real problem isn’t in the waiting – it’s what can happen while we wait. Over the past handful of years, I have learned that there are two ways out of a stressful situation that we have no control over or a circumstance in which we are forced to wait for our lives to get back to normal. We can accept what is happening and choose a peaceful state of mind or we can choose to fight against it, be miserable, and struggle against the universe.

Guess where I learned that? I learned it from my daughter Grace when she was just 11-years-old. Several nights before the surgery in which her left leg would be amputated due to her disease, I was helping her pack for her hospital stay. Grace saw me grab her Chaco sandals and place them in her bag. I instinctively packed both.

And then Grace said, “Mom, you only need to pack one of those. I won’t need the left sandal in the hospital.”

“Oops, you’re right Grace. Sorry about that.” I replied.

“No problem, mom. I just need to wait on my prosthetic leg to be built before I can wear both sandals again.”Grace answered with a smile.

Grace Leg

That type of acceptance is the key to helping you move forward even while your life seems to be on hold. That type of acceptance is the solution to coping with an ellipsis of life. Believe me, I get it. I know that it is difficult to practice acceptance when you deeply wish things are not the way they are. But I remain committed even today to follow Grace’s lead.

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 hold or what I have been calling ‘Stay tuned…’ status, I know without a doubt that it will all work out.

I also know that each year almost 10 million people across the world die from cancer, of which 80,000 are children. Telecommuting, distance learning, shelter-in-place orders, and social distancing might place a pause or hold on the spread of COVID-19, 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…

Please stay healthy, stay tuned, and stay hopeful. There is always hope. Hope has no finish line.

 

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