Sandwiches are so hard

thanksI recently had an afternoon to spend at the local hospital. I needed some tests and then had an appointment a few hours later. It didn’t make sense to leave so I decided to wait it out.

Time is malleable. When I’m doing something I love, hours slip by as fast as a fox across a field. When I’m waiting to see an oncologist, minutes limp along, an arthritic dog laboring his way to the door.

I noticed that making decisions doesn’t come easily during the waiting time.

On a good day, I take my time to decide anything. I like to research and study before making a choice. If you’ve eaten with me in a restaurant, you know I can go two ways: always ordering the same thing or taking a long time to inspect the menu before asking the  server for his suggestion.

During a time of unknowing, my hesitant decision making skills peter out. I stood at the cooler looking at cold sandwiches for ten minutes. Roast beef? Cheese and tomato? Baguette? Italian? I was both thankful and envious when someone came up and took the last turkey and cheese.

Thankful because it was one less choice, envious because she had made her decision so quickly and maybe that  was the best sandwich!

Less emotional energy

When facing a big change or big news, I have less emotional energy. A sandwich choice is going to seem much more imposing than usual.

I went with the roast beef.

If you know someone has a lot going on, try making a decision for them.

During a crisis, the natural offer is to say “Let me know if you need anything.” Of course it’s an offer made from generosity but the person doesn’t have the emotional energy to let anyone know. She probably is struggling to even tell what she needs, let alone communicate it.

A concrete offer can be more helpful. “I will call you on Wednesday just to say hello.” “I will bring you tea at 3:15.”

You might get refused but that’s OK.

Sometimes the effort to not think about something makes it impossible to think at all. I didn’t want to think about cancer so I couldn’t think about which sandwich would taste good. It was as if my brain went onto energy-saver mode.

Facing something tough? Save your hard choices for the times when you’re clear-headed.

It’s OK to say, “I’m having an off day and I can’t make this decision right now.”


PS—I got to my appointment with the oncologist. She looked over the test results and said, “Not malignant. So that’s good news.”

I left the office and crossed the skywalk. I passed the prayer room and decided to go in. I fell to my knees, thinking, “Thank you God for the gift of my life. I know someone right now in this hospital is hearing the word, malignant. Comfort them and give them the strength they need.”

Giving thanks is one decision I know is always right, even in times I can’t pick a sandwich.

12 thoughts on “Sandwiches are so hard

  1. Gen, Just read your blog… And had a hard time not crying as I read it. So thankful you heard the “good” words– I’ve been in that place where my husband and I heard “it’s leukemia” . Your life stops and changes in milliseconds. So, in the spirit of your blog– we are having lunch next week– do you want Wednesday or Friday? Is that helping you make a decision or just being bossy? : )

    Take Care Friend!


  2. Amen and amen! You are sooooo right on. Going through this siege with Bob these last3 months truly reinforces exactly what you just said.

    1. Pat, thank you for your heartfelt note. You have amazing faith and a great inner core of strength to go through such hard times keeping your head up. I’m grateful to know you. Blessings to you!

  3. Talk about suspenseful reading! I’m so glad you included the post-script! Whew! But now that I think of it, that was a good way for you to try to convey to us the readers in some minute way the relief you felt when you heard the words “benign.” Your concrete example of how our brains go into “power-saver” mode in times of crisis was a great reminder of how to help ourselves and others during trying times.

    1. Thank you, Shoshannah! I’m glad I had a happy post-script to add. Just so good for me to keep in mind others’ struggles are often not obvious. Appreciate you leaving your thoughts here!

  4. Really, really great advice. I’m always open to help people I know need it, but hesitant to just DO something. This reminded me of all the times my friends just pulled the trigger and DID something, anything, really… and it was exactly what I needed.

    1. Thank you for adding your comment, Jess! I know I sometimes feel intimidated to act but it can be a boost at exactly the time someone needs it. If I could have had someone come in and just hand me a sandwich, it would have been easier! 😀

  5. I am living beyond cancer (13 years!!) and I agree it was difficult to make another decision in the middle of cancer threat. I was grateful for the pragmatic and practical help that dozens of friends gave me — bringing meals, doing laundry, phone calls. Day to day life is exhausting when dealing with cancer. Happy beyond words for your good news.

    1. The outpouring of love was amazing. From the flowers in your front yard to your son coming home from college to help out, you were surrounded by care. Glad you’re here to tell your stories!

  6. Sandwiches are hard – I sometimes find decision making difficult, too, but thanks for putting it in perspective. So glad everything was okay!

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