I have a small, black frame on my dresser. My sister gave me the card that is carefully housed inside and it reads, “this too shall pass.” (I believe the author is “unknown.”) When I was in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy treatments for leukemia, I contracted not one, but two skin infections simultaneously. I was in some degree of pain and discomfort and one of the infections was communicable, so I was quarantined in my teeny tiny room for 16 days. When I questioned the on-call oncologist (not my regular doctor) about the infections, the course of treatment, how long I was going to spend in solitary confinement (oops, I mean isolation), he brushed me off and said, “This too shall pass.”
Now, I understand the good intention of using this four-word phrase. It can be translated as, “Don’t worry, things will get better” or “Things can only go up from here.” They are meant as a means of encouragement when one faces a serious illness or injury, or a catastrophic event such as a job loss or house fire.
Just for the record, I did not fully appreciate the doctor’s attempt to uplift me at my darkest hour. I think that the phrase, “this too shall pass” should be reserved solely for references to gas and kidney stones.