Well, finally, I’m back! After months of struggles accompanied by God’s constant blessings, I am perhaps ready to share on this blog what I am learning.
But first, I probably need to share the struggles. A year ago my husband died after many years of illness and my dedication to his care. Several months later, I experienced the return of multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, and began chemotherapy again. Then within a time span of several weeks, I fell several times in my home and went to live with my son and family in hopes of being safe while understanding the whys of this new phenomenon. The falls did not stop; they only got more serious. One fall at the door of a dentist office and one at my son’s home injured both my tailbone and my head. The last fall involved an ambulance and a CT scan – which fortunately revealed no brain damage. But why the dizziness and the seeming loss of consciousness? A heart monitor and a telemonitor are now in place in hopes of determining that.
In the meanwhile, I have had constant visitors: a nurse, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and a person who is with me three hours a day to watch over me. It has finally been determined that I can return home next week – after a careful review of the accessibility of my home and the installation of a grab bar here and there. I will be returning to an empty garage, since during this whole process I decided I could no longer drive and sold my car. More loss of independence.
So . . . what has this year of loss taught me?
1. We can survive more than we ever anticipated. Life goes on and we can adapt. And if we don’t want to adapt, there is always someone who will encourage us to try.
2. Families are our lifeblood. My son has turned out to be the perfect intermediary between me and every kind of professional that has ever been invented. He is also a chauffeur, a companion during chemo, a watchful eye when I blunder forth without my walker, and a good listener in between zoom meetings with his college students and preparations for classes. My daughter-in-law has gone out of her way to find food that I will eat and to think of everything I might need. She does this while preparing lesson plans for the students in her new teaching position and taking care of the rest of her family. My 16-yearold granddaughter has gracefully given up her bedroom for more than three weeks. And my college-student grandson has been a perfect caregiver during his fall break.
3. Make good friends and keep them! I have been surrounded by loving and caring friends. They cheer me up and offer their prayers. They give me rides, loan me their walker, keep me company, run errands for me, call me and e-mail and text me, pick up library books the list goes on and on.
4. For the last two decades, my favorite spiritual formation practices have been “letting go” (as taught by Ignatius of Loyola) and practicing gratitude (as encouraged by Richard Foster). These two habits have eased the last year of my life tremendously. Daily I can find much for which to be thankful. And letting go of precious people and experiences has been made easier by my being willing to relinquish as life has gone by.
5. Keep the promises of God in your heart. And live the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus preached and lived it. The remembrance of God’s words and example of Christ’s life make all the difference as we try to navigate the stress and complications that life brings us.