Last year I wrote a post titled Wander On, Weary Soul, the title of which alluded to a song by the Bluegrass Gospel Project. I couldn’t think of a better song to describe how I felt at the time about my circumstances. My husband was out of work and had been for quite a while and my mother’s mental and physical health was declining in front of my eyes. It was a few months after this that I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. Luckily, I am now considered cancer free. My husband also started a job recently…the day before my mother passed away last month. So much has changed in such a short time.
I’m kind of in shock right now. For so long, I had no free time. Everyday, Monday through Friday, I would work at least eight hours, go see my mother for at least an hour, and then go home where my husband was starved for conversation after being home alone all day. I saw my mother for even longer on the weekends. As an introvert, this really took its toll on me. I was physically exhausted and mentally beat down. Sometimes, I would just get in bed and bury myself in the covers, not wanting to be disturbed.
Now, so much weight has been lifted from me…mentally, emotionally, and financially. Yes, my mother is gone, but her quality of life had greatly diminished due to the Dementia as well as her arthritis, blindness, and constant shortness of breath. She said she was ready to go see her family who had gone to Heaven before her, so I’m happy for her. I am confident that I will see her again someday as well. That being said…it’s hard to be a caregiver. Now that my husband is working, I have more time to read and to write. I’ve also been walking and riding my bike almost every morning which I find invigorating.
I feel like the past couple years I was struggling to climb up a steep mountain while being battered by raging wind and rain, and now I’ve reached the mountain top and the storm has suddenly stopped, the sun has come out, and the birds have started singing. It’s crazy how quickly life can change! I know this serenity won’t last the rest of my life. I know there will be other mountains to climb and storms to lean into. But for now, I’m going to relish the peace that comes after the storm as I stand on this mountaintop and rejoice. I have been refined like silver and tested like gold, but by the grace of God, I made it!
At the same time, I don’t want to forget the lessons I learned. When I was going through such a difficult time (especially after my cancer diagnosis), I was able to put my life into perspective. I started to detach from this world, and I hate to admit it, but I even prayed for God to take me. I just didn’t feel like I could endure anything else. Please don’t let that color your opinion of me, and please don’t compare my life to yours. I was going through multiple crises (spousal job loss, elderly caregiving, and cancer). You can’t possibly put yourself into my shoes, but a positive outcome of all of this overwhelming stress was that I was able to see more clearly than ever that we are only in these bodies for a short time, and we have to make the most of the time we have and do the most good that we can while we’re here. I think my greatest fear now is that I will forget that feeling and take my time and talents for granted again.
Another lesson I learned is that people only have so much emotional capital. We only have so much ability to cope. I think this ability to cope is like a pitcher of water. Every stressful situation or crisis pours out some of that water until we’re dry. I used to naively believe that people should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and buck up. When you’re the one facing multiple crises, however, it’s not so easy. It’s no wonder some people turn to alcohol, drugs, smoking, and cutting. They’re desperate! I will never look at others the same way.
God gives us so much grace. He’s the kindest, most loving father in the universe, freely offering his divine favor and mercy. Shouldn’t we, then, turn around and show that same grace to others? Whether it’s in terms of forgiveness or helping others who are going through a difficult time, we owe it to God and to others to practice grace, to help others in need…even if it’s just in listening to a person share his or her story. You can do so much by simply being with a person and letting that person know that you care.