I have been in shutdown mode for almost a month.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I have been busy doing the day-to-day things of life in a house with three busy sons still at home; an old, loving yet needy, dog; a chaotic kitten; and an always-on-the-go hubby. And I have been frenetically working on a photo book for my third son’s graduation in a month (no, it’s still not done, I’m only on the 7th grade!); planning the graduation BBQ, creating and mailing the invitations, and working out the details of college stuff.
Oh, and I am trying to remember that I am hosting a really cool event on Saturday for the (in)courage team. It’s called (in)RL and it’s a webinar, of sorts. It’s also a small group, of sorts. It’s also a party, of sorts. A time for women to gather in homes all over the world, and share their insights and feelings about community. Discussing how women can stay in community with each other despite the hectic, crazy-paced lives we all lead. It promises to be very insightful and a whole lot of fun…if I can simply wrap my heart and my brain around it, that is.
You see, I’m still reeling from the reality that my mom is gone.
You would think, that after 5-1/2 years of watching her battle lung cancer–knowing from the first moments of her diagnosis that she was already at stage IV–I wouldn’t be struggling with this quite so intensely or for quite so long. But the reality is, I am. She’s gone. It hurts. A lot.
She was my very best and oldest friend. And she’s gone. I can’t call her with all the stupid, mundane, daily things that she cared so much about hearing. I can’t ask her how to get an ink stain out of a white shirt, or how to poach an egg, or any of the other million things I’ve asked her over the years. Yes, I know. There’s always Google. But it just isn’t the same, somehow.
I’ve even been having difficulty wrapping my mind around the reality that it hurts as bad as it does. Can’t express it. Can’t admit it. Can’t face it, feel it, or deal with it. Simply want the pain and the loneliness to leave. And then, this morning, I read a beautiful blog written by a beautiful woman–a Pink Sister, dealing with her own fears and pains and life–and the reality of what I’m feeling hit me hard.
This week, Vicky wrote about falling…and what catches you. And as I read her post, I realized that is exactly what I’ve been doing these past few weeks–despite the apparent busy-ness of my life, the daily going-through-the-motions–I have been falling. Free falling. Into a world of grief and pain and sadness. And knowing myself as I do, I realize that if I am not careful, if I don’t find the right things to catch hold of, I will fall straight into the arms of depression. Been there before…don’t want to go there, again.
So, as I read her post, I thought of those things that catch me when I fall. Those things that keep me grounded to life and living and joy. Of course, seeing that my mind is stuck there, the first thing I thought of was Mom. How I always turn to her when I have a question, or a fear, or a joy, or anything of any purpose in my life to share or discuss. The immediate response to this thought is to take a tiny step toward the free-fall zone…falling back into the abyss. But that’s what I’m trying to get out of, so with effort, I think further.
I look out my office window and see the fresh spring grass, damp from overnight showers. The sun filters down through the trees, casting an emerald-yellow glow on the dried leaves below. Normally at this time of day, the birds are dancing around the lawn, picking up their morning rations…but today (probably because in my free-fall I forgot to feed them!), the yard is free from their dancing feet. Even the young robin–who has been incessantly banging his head into every window and door of our home for the past three and half weeks–is strangely absent from view. Although I hear them up in the trees, calling to one another (there’s probably a little fussing about the empty feeder, as well). A cacophony of sound in the silence of the morning.
These are all things that have brought me peace and balance in the past. Balance. I remember the beginning of this year, focusing on the One Word I wanted to be my focus-point for the year. Balance…the one thing I seem to have lost.
My memory verse has fallen by the wayside, in a never-ending flow of chaos and emotion. Job 22:21-25 was to be the focus of my heart and my life this year, bringing balance and purpose to my days.
“Give in to God, come to terms with Him and everything will turn out just fine. Let Him tell you what to do: take His words to heart. Come back to God Almighty and He’ll rebuild your life. Clean house of everything evil. Relax your grip on your money and abandon your gold-plated luxury. God Almighty will be your treasure, more wealth than you can imagine.”
Which brings me to my next catching-point–God. He is my refuge. He is my strength. And yet, I have allowed myself to lose focus on Him and the peace that He brings to my life. It is not that I don’t feel His presence…I do. It is not that I don’t know He is with me…I do. It is simply that I can’t seem to dig past the fact that the lifelong friend He gave me at my birth has gone home to be with Him…and left me alone. No, I am not angry about that, not really. It is all part of the circle of life–to use an overused cliche. But it still hurts and I am still left without her and I have a lot more sadness than I ever thought possible. But I still have Him. And I still feel His love. And I still love Him. And as I sit here and allow His love to fill my heart, I am also reminded of the others that He has given to fill my life with meaning and balance and joy.
My four beautiful sons. My incredibly loving–and tolerant–husband. My lazy, loving old Gordon Setter. My insanely, happy and catastrophe-creating kitten. My brother and sister-in-law, who have had the intensely painful and time-consuming task of handling all the day-to-day trials of closing out a lifetime of household memories and stuff. All my incredible friends, who have blessed me with cards and flowers and phone calls.
Even in my free-falling sadness, I have never once been left alone. I have felt love surround me each and every day. Loving hearts and hands reaching out to catch me as I fall…never allowing me to spin completely out of control, just allowing me time and space to feel the pain, admit the loss, and accept the hurt as part of life. Because that is what it is, simply another part of life.
There is no joy without a little pain or sorrow. There is no peace without a little turmoil or stress. This is how balance works. You can’t “balance” something if there is only one side to balance. You can’t remember to cling to God in times of sorrow, pain, and fear if there is no pain or fear or sorrow to face.
My life continues, even as my mother becomes a more distant memory with each passing day…but never too distant to forget. She was my first friend, my first enemy, my first protector, my first love, my first hate, my first joy, my first sadness, my first taste of faith. These things–and a million others–are never forgotten. I shall grieve just a little longer, I think–falling a little more slowly every day–and then rest once again in the arms of my Creator and Best Friend, knowing that life continues and this is how it all works. The balance of life and death and grieve and pain and joy and memory and love…