I’ve had a friend from home visiting this week.
Whenever that happens (which is very rarely), I see this new life through their eyes.
And I see just how far from the shore of the old life I’ve drifted.
The most common comment: “I had no idea.”
Which is kind of weird.
Because I feel like I’ve been fairly honest in my description of what things are like out here.
But everyone, friend or family member, says the same thing: “I never could have imagined what this is like. It’s just not possible for people to understand unless they’ve been here.”
I don’t know why I need to share this. I guess it’s because I’m so tired and very achy and a little teary.
(Even post-menopausal women still get all hormonal sometimes.)
And because I have to stay so completely focused on what needs to happen in the next 15 minutes that I can’t allow myself the luxury/torment of projecting into the next day/week/month/year. I am so intent on just surviving…doing the next “right thing”… that I can’t reflect upon how difficult…impossible…this all is sometimes.
Unbelievable, unbearable. Unreal…yet very, very real.
So completely different from the way most of my friends are living that they don’t (can’t possibly) have a clue. If I try to explain, I might as well be speaking Russian. (Not complain…just explain. Like why I don’t always answer phone calls or emails:
… I don’t always have time to go to the bathroom. Can you wrap your mind around this???)
Everyone asks very realistic, reasonable questions about the future. And I always answer in the same naïve/cliché-kind of way. “One day at a time…let each day’s trouble be sufficient for the day…” yada yada yada.
The reality is that we are often terrified, and if we look down, we’ll drown. Fall off the tightrope into the bottomless chasm of despair and doubt.
So faith is not a virtue, it is a necessity. It is not something that has to be worked up; it is the air that we breathe in order to survive.
I am nothing, nothing, nothing at all without it.
I can do nothing without it.
I don’t know what fresh hell tomorrow holds.
But I do know that if I don’t fling myself into the arms of my compassionate Father and beg for mercy, I might as well just lay down and die.
Some days that would be a welcome relief from the pain of existence on this fatally flawed planet.
So I fix my eyes on what is unseen. I lie down for a minute when my sweet love/little tormentor takes his nap. And I ask for refreshing.
“Times of refreshing come from the Lord.”*
They really do.
I receive what I need in order to take the next step.
The pilgrimage is often hard and tiring. There are falls and bruises and hundreds of glasses of spilled milk and broken things along the way. Aching backs and heads. A deeper exhaustion than I’ve ever known.
But we can’t give up.
We crawl on, limping and bleeding, to the finish line.
Where there is true rest at last.
I debated whether or not to post this one. It just spilled out last night. I slept on it, and decided to go ahead and click this morning. Because I am trying to paint a realistic portrait of life after an earthquake. The portrait would be incomplete if I only included the happy/funny/”inspirational” moments.
I need to make it very, very clear that I do not in any way consider myself to be the primary victim here. The struggles I experience are not even worthy of comparing to what Katherine and Jay deal with each and every day. They are the heroes in this story. They are continuously bombarded with fresh and daunting challenges.
But, by its nature, an earthquake continues to send out tremors that affect whole families. When a tragedy occurs to one family member, the life of everyone in the family is changed. None of us have had an easy time. For instance, my husband supports a unique burden in that he has to be alone so much. It is easier to be here in the midst of the fray than to worry about everyone from a distance.
I reflect back on the stories that have been so graciously shared with me over the past few weeks. They have given me hope and a sense of solidarity. When my day is long and hard, I think of Cheri and what she’s living through. Or Peggy, who's living in circumstances similar to mine, helping with grandchildren apart from her husband. (Who is home caring for her elderly mother.) Everyone stretched thin. The friend who was visiting is living through her own earthquake. Hers was caused by human choice rather than by illness or accident. That is a special kind of hell.
It helps to know that there are others who truly understand what's it's like to have your world turned upside down.
Thank you for that great gift.
(* Acts 3:19)
(* Acts 3:19)