A few weeks ago, I was standing at the kitchen counter while Ruby had her piano lesson in the living room. I can’t remember exactly what I was doing–something mundane like sorting the mail. But the windows were open, there was a fresh, spring breeze in the air, and the afternoon sunlight spilled across the kitchen floor in the most delightful manner. Ruby began her scales, and I began to cry.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a cryer. And so when the tears start to flow, I pay attention. I dug deep and realized that the source of my tears came not because something was wrong, but because everything seemed so right. The sound of piano scales drifting on the warmth of an afternoon breeze seemed so pleasant, so Mayberry, so deliciously normal that it made me realize the vast chasm between that idyllic moment and the reality of my days.
It seems that chronic illness keeps taking from me, stealing away bits and pieces of me when I’m not looking. And I don’t notice they’re gone until I’m asked for them.
“Of course! I can give you Creative-Artist-Erin (or Spontaneous-Wife-Erin, or Laughing-Mama-Erin)! Here you are….wait a minute….where’d she go? She was right here the last time I looked.”
The past few years have been a slow process of letting go and mourning losses. Having things stolen from me isn’t really new. But it seems that this pile of losses has been growing very quickly lately, and it leaves my heart hurting.
I wasn’t there when Jonathan hurt himself at soccer practice, and another mom got to hug him and tell him he’d be okay. One more loss heaped on the pile.
I wasn’t with Pearl when she went down the big slide, and Ruby got to hold her on her lap and giggle with her on the way down. Toss another one on.
I gave years of my life to preserving a historic building downtown to be used as an arts center. There is an inaugural fiber arts show coming up in that building, and I don’t even have the energy to participate in this thing that I helped to create. Heave ho, onto the heap.
I haven’t eaten dinner with my family in months, I can’t walk through the zoo with my kids, and I don’t get a day off from cooking on Mother’s Day. They just. keep. piling. up.
In spite of the years of sickness and losses, I have managed to cling to denial. For all these years I’ve told myself that this season of sickness is just that–a season. It’s not permanent and it’s not reality, so no need to pitch my tent here. Just tough it out until the season passes.
But these past few weeks have taught me that this is not so. This is no season through which I am passing. This is reality. The landscape of my life has changed–is changing. Even if the symptoms of my illness pass, I am still left with the implications of a chronic illness–continual vigilance, monitoring, tests, diet restrictions. Even if I am healed, I will never know again the freedom of eating what I want. I will never again be free of doctors and scopes and tests.
I weep for my losses, but more than that I weep for my children’s losses, and for the countless moments that I lose with them every day. These children who will have few to no memories of life with a healthy, happy mom. Who will grow up believing that I am the sum of what they see, and who will completely miss my heart that breaks for them and for the loss of all the things that I can’t offer them.
Oh friends, these losses make my heart heavy. I am ever searching for the Hope and the Truth, something to soothe a bruised and bloodied heart. I am willing to accept that I may not ever be well, that this might be just the beginning of my losses, that my kids are laying foundations for their own mounds of losses. But if my reality lies in the midst of heaps and heaps of losses, I need to know how to glorify God from that spot.
I wish I could write a tidier post. I do so love to follow a winding thought and find that it brings me to someplace golden and glowing. I know that He will lead me there eventually, but it’s not today. And so, for now, it will have to be enough to say with Job,
The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.