Saturday, August 11, 2012
It's Been a Week! (Or Almost Two...)
This past 10 days have been that way for me.
I've had very difficult parenting challenges with a teenager who needed to be reminded that mommies are to be respected...and that self-control is a virtue that will get him far in life. Also with a 20-Something who pretty much withdrew from life for awhile after losing a job that he didn't really enjoy, but paid his bills.
I've been getting used to living alone (even though my boys are here most of the time) after living in a full house for the past 24 years. It's had its ups and downs, but perhaps more downs in the past week or so. (Broken lawn mowers don't help with that!)
I've been a little sick lately. Nothing overwhelming - just a sinus and ear infection that I'm sure will be feeling better soon. But facing each day with a pounding ear and head before you even get out of bed is beyond frustrating. Especially when you're as busy as I've been to begin this month.
I've been hurt by a few people that are incredibly close to me. Unintentionally hurt, but nonetheless hurt. And now I am working to heal those relationships, which is important, but not really easy.
And I've experienced death indirectly. Not once...but twice. That has most definitely been the hardest thing that's happened in the last 10 days, and that is what has robbed me of my full smile lately. It's been hard to get it back, frankly.
Yesterday, my friend was laid to rest. She was an extraordinary woman, so upbeat and positive. Despite the fact that she struggled with a fatal disease for much of her life. Christina had Cystic Fibrosis, and she far outlived the typical person with CF. There's no known cure for CF, and Christina knew that. But she lived her life as fully as she possibly could. She was a loving wife, a fantastic mommy, and a source of great encouragement to me and her other friends. She has been with me on this journey from the beginning, often giving me private comments to let me know that she thought what I was doing was amazing and that she was proud of me.
Realizing that I won't have any more of those comments from her hurts me. But what hurts me more is that her husband and children have to face life and move forward without her. Mommies aren't supposed to leave their young children behind. Trying to understand the "why do bad things happen to good people" conundrum is taxing. And as much as I love God and trust that He's in control, there are just times when I don't get it. At all.
Which is pretty much how I feel about the other death I experienced this week. The day after Christina succumbed to CF, my friend and colleague, Barb, lost her husband when cancer took him from her far too quickly. When they got the diagnosis at the end of the school year, the prognosis wasn't good, but I'm pretty sure that no one expected he would leave his family and friends so soon. Tomorrow, when we all gather to support Barb at a memorial service for her husband, I'm sure those sentiments will be shared by everyone who knew him. Such a loss.
So, it's been a tough month of August for me so far. The thing is, sometimes life is like this. Often, actually. Seems like we spend a lot of time struggling through difficult things in our lives. All of us, not just me. So what do I take away from these 10 days? A few things, actually.
First, we are much stronger than we think we are. My friend Christina showed me that, outlasting by a good bit the typical life expectancy of CF, mostly by sheer force of will, I believe. My friend, Barb, is showing me that by facing the loss of her husband and best friend with grace and dignity, despite the fact that he left so suddenly and with such pain. People can do so much more than they believe they can. We sometimes only learn this lesson through adversity. But wouldn't it be wise if we remembered it in the good times, too? Maybe then we'd experience fewer defeats in our challenges if we could remember that we have the strength we need to face them head on and be victorious.
Next, I take away that tough times don't last forever. They come...but then they go. It's hard to remember that while you're right in the midst of them, but it's no less true. My friend's husband, Stephen, is moving forward. He took their daughter to dance class today, beginning to understand and embrace his role as "Mr. Mom" as he called it. Does he miss her? To the uttermost depths of his being, I'm sure. Is he still aching? Absolutely. But is he moving forward? Yes. The best he can, he's moving on. I'm sure Barb will experience the same thing. And I know I have and will, too. We all do.
Finally, the last takeaway from the beginning of this month for me is this: perception is not reality. We treat it like reality, but it's not. My feelings, my perception of these events over the past 10 days has been largely negative. People I care about dying or losing people they love...children struggling to grow up and become the men I know they'll be one day...sickness robbing me of energy and creating pain...friends hurting me - not one of those things feels positive to me. But the reality of the situation is that my response to those circumstances in my life is up to me. I get to choose how I will respond. I can respond in very positive ways that lead to good outcomes, or I can choose to dwell in my feelings of negativity, which will not produce anything good. How I perceive these events is not what they actually are. The events themselves are neutral. They have no feeling automatically assigned or associated with them, only what I choose to give them. What each of these difficulties truly is in my life is an opportunity. A chance for me to put into practice what I preach and choose my response to the circumstances of my life.
So, I think that smile may just have to come back. Because I'm done feeling defeated and negative. Yes, it was a difficult start to the month. But I'm still here. I'm still working on my goals in life. These ten days have not stolen anything from me that I can't replace if I choose to. Happiness isn't about my circumstances at all. It comes from a much deeper place, and right now, I'm reclaiming it. I don't enjoy any of the circumstances that have come my way, but I am better, stronger, and healthier because I've dealt with them and learned from them. THAT is how I choose to view the first part of August.
Now...let's move on to better days!