Sunday, March 22, 2009

About Life

You know, when it comes down to it, life is just. . .life.

Betty Miller [you know, Lester Financial Guy's widow; if she's done a ladies' retreat at your church you are still doing Betty imitations ten years later] once said, at a ladies' retreat where she and I both spoke, that joy and sorrow travel on parallel tracks and arrive at the same time.

I would amend that to say that I seem to live where about a dozen tracks converge, and I have stuff coming at me all the time, from all directions. Wonderful stuff, terrible stuff, and in between, and I keep waiting for life to decide to be simply good or bad, but it won't cooperate.

So I finally finally came home from my travels, on a warm and sunny evening, and the daffodils are blooming like you never saw daffodils bloom in your life, and the grass is green and thick, and the cherry tree is blooming, and the children have grown another inch apiece it seems, except for Amy who doesn't grow any more but has more influence per cubic inch than most of us ever will.

But--is Amy so busy at school and helping me that she doesn't really have a life? And why is she so quiet? And is her heart being quietly broken by some anonymous young man but she won't talk about it?

Meanwhile in Colorado Emily got sick and has been down for almost a week, and I have a sick sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, because I am reliving the past year and a half in my mind, and what if this means Colorado isn't going to work for her, and we really don't have contingency plans for if she gets sick and stays sick, and sometimes I think the uncertainties and raised/dashed hopes of her life are going to drive me to insanity.

[But, as Emily herself said, going crazy is a lot harder than it sounds.]

But meanwhile I have children who are just plain thriving. Ben and Steven are entered in various events in next week's student convention--running, basketball, singing, trivia, and so on. And Jenny continues to grasp life with both hands, and she also figured out a way to put Cocoa the lamb on a leash and go on walks, and it is just cute.

But now Cocoa has diarrhea and I don't know what to do.

At the same time Matt is forevermore struggling with those engineering classes, and had to put off his graduation date because he couldn't swing the one class that's a prerequisite for four others, and it's offered winter term only. And with the economy like it is, he hasn't been able to find a part-time job in his field, so he may end up sacking seed again, which will surely be the ruination of his lungs and knees.

But meanwhile Matt has been asked to speak at a couple of church events lately, and did well, and it makes me happy to have him find his voice.

And Paul is doing well at his first week of meetings. It's not standing room only, or anything, but he seems to be well received.

But I miss him. And one son in particular needs a dad pretty badly right now.

And I just got done with the final final edits on Downstairs the Queen is Knitting, which is exciting. But the other two books are tanking on Amazon.

And so on, on a dozen different fronts.

Last night I called my brother Marcus, acknowledging the fact that his son would have been 26 the day before, had he lived, and I wish I could remember what Marcus told me, because it was very comforting, and it was along the lines of, "You know, life on this earth is just what it is." Oh dear, that doesn't make much sense, does it? Well, he said more than that but more than anything it was his simply understanding how tough it can be, particularly about Emily, that had me in tears.

Today it strikes me odd that my brother, who lost a son, was comforting me, whose problems are pretty mild in comparison. He certainly had the option of saying, "Hey, be glad you just have health issues to deal with. At least you can call her up every day and talk for a while." But he didn't say that. He just acknowledged that life comes at you from all directions with both good and bad, and it's not easy, and we have something a lot better to look forward to.

Quote of the Day:
"So, is this thing called a . . . crouton??"
--anonymous friend of Ben and Steven's, settling down on the futon


  1. You will not go insane because you are resourceful and creative and flexible--which is why you are involved in so many different things that can all seem like too much when the point of convergence becomes too dark with intersecting lines. All the same, I sympathize with the feeling, and know that finding a place of peace is a God-sized job, especially with regard to your children and their needs.

    I didn't know that Leonard was less than a month younger than our oldest son. Joel's getting married soon, and realizing what all Marcus's family is missing without Leonard in their lives helps me sympathize with them too.

  2. As the saying goes, "life is tough..." and yet life is and we are life.

    Take it one day at a time and thank God for your wonderful family, church, and group of friends! This is all preparation for the future. I have to believe that or then I won't be able to make it.

    God bless...

  3. (sigh) Whenever you move to a new place, you are exposed to variants of bugs that are different enough that your immune system doens't recognize them. You get sicker traveling or moving to a new place than any other time. Emily will pull through, and she will be fine. She is a little weak now, but she will get stronger and the next bug won't be so bad.

    I remember a scene from MASH when BJ was so upset about this and that--missing his daughter and wife and whatever else, and Margaret (who was career Army, no spouse or kids) finally got fed up and told him off. 'What makes you think your brand of suffering is any worse than the rest of ours? If you have lost the most, it's only because you had the most to lose!"

    I agree with Mrs. I. You have a lot of lines converging. But the potential for loss in only equaled by your potential for joy. Every bit you give up of one side, you also have to give up of the other.

    The balance for Christians is that JOY always comes in the morning. We can put in milk and flour and sorrow... but we always know we will end with JOY.

  4. Ohhh that KaraBeagle is a deep one! What good advice she offers! =) I'm praying for Emily. Even more since her last post on xanga. I just wanted to go and give her a big hug.

    As for your Funny Father always calls it a "crouton" --on purpose. *_*

  5. After the loss of our son I came to realize that what I am going through isnt any less hard to work through just because someone elses journey looks or seems like it would be harder. Each journey we are asked to go through has with it its own kind of pain that someone elses journey dosent have.
    May God give you grace, peace and strength as you work through this tough situation. Blessings, Ruth from DE

  6. Does there happen to be mold in Emily's house?

  7. I don't know about that parallel track thing. I've heard that before, but I really think that joy and sorrow don't travel on parallel tracks at all-- they travel on the SAME track together! I'm reading A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss, by Gerald Sittser. I like what he says: "What we consider opposites--east and west, night and light, sorrow and joy, weakness and strength, anger and love, despair and hope, death and life--are no more mutually exclusive than winter and sunlight. The soul has the capacity to experience these opposites, even at the same time." And it sounds like your brother has allowed sorrow to enlarge his capacity to live and love largely and lavishly. I want that. Thanks for doing what you do, writing what you write, and inviting us all to live honestly. Blessing, Judy Beachy

  8. Thanks for all your insightful comments. Sharon--I didn't see any mold in Emily's house. Even the basement seemed dry.