Wednesday, September 22, 2021

By His Grace

I had surgery three Mondays ago. The first week home, all of the kids were with grandparents.  The second week, the bigs were in school and the littles with my mom.  I had a lot of time.  To rest.  To heal.  To recover.  To think.

While I believe it is good at times to be alone with only one's thoughts, other times those thoughts get away from me.  And, that's what happened that week.

I had to prepare some photos for Bell Road Beef.  And, in opening my photo library, I was hit with a slew of photos from 2019-2020.  In most we were cooking something fun, doing a little activity, schooling or just living out life on the ranch.

My hair was long (I truly don't care about the length); my kids seemed so little; we were filled with yummy, new recipes.  Life was full.

Then came August, and we have new family photos, the expected "we added a new baby to the bunch" photo on my bed, and a couple of things here or there, but many less photos and honestly, many less "activities."  Then October, and next to nothing.

My mind immediately went there.  There were so many things that defined me - that defined us.  Not for any other reason than it was my job.  I was a mom, and I was going to be a mom to the very best of my ability.  I wanted to cook new things, teach my babies how to read, bring them up in the faith, make their birthdays special.  You name it - I wanted to do that.  Because it was my vocation.

I don't know the last time I made something new, or something even remotely "fun."  We have missed so much Mass in the last year for various reasons.  We've stayed home from gatherings to protect my immune system.  We've pivoted 360 degrees in our schooling.  And, my kids have grown up.  Much faster than I wanted them to.  And, there was so much just "putting one foot in front of the other" that it almost seems that I missed everything but what was essential for survival in the last eleven months.

I thought I had done so well.  Handling it.  Pushing through.  Giving it to God.

And then I was alone.  Alone with the photos of a life that didn't quite seem real (maybe that's dramatic).  And the pain came.  The tears streamed down my face as I focused on what each and every one of my family members have been through this year.  I cried at how unrecognizable our lives had become.  Over and over in my mind came the thought..."you've let everything go."  And, the Devil ran with it.

I couldn't sleep.  It didn't help that my scans were coming up.  Pervading every other thought was the one on repeat..."You cannot even be who you want to be."  Whether it was fatigue, sickness, medical travel or the perpetual fog I find myself in, my focus landed on all that I was missing around me.  And, then my medical appointments that week ended with learning I would be put on another chemo in March - an oral pill daily, for a year, that I've been told is worse than anything I've experienced thus far.

In order for a better chance to live.

I will take it.

But some days it just feels like more than I can handle.  Let me rephrase that.  More than I want to handle.

It was then, as I was sobbing on the phone to my sister, that she reminded me that all saints had life-changing events...that my little ones, yes, have lost much innocence this year, but that it's preparing them for their crosses and sanctity.

That while so much seems to have been be asked of us, we still have all we really need, even if that's a store-bought birthday cake (see how silly I am?!) and a mom who is no longer also their teacher (you know what I mean).

That while another chemo that may somewhat confine me to home also may be just fine...just like what I was looking at last year seemed insurmountable at times, too.

That the "life" contained in those pictures won't be back.  I won't ever be completely free of the risk of recurrence.  We won't ever not have a child with special needs.

That I would be lying if I said parts of that above statement don't make me sad at times (not the part about Agnes).

That so very many would trade their cross for mine.

I know that.  I know I'm still blessed beyond measure.  And, I am so very grateful.

Some days are just hard.  And, I need to sit in the hard and often talk through the experiences of the last year and how each one got us where we are today.

While I feel weak, I know we've never been stronger.  While at times I ache for my husband and kids, I know this is part of His plan for them, too.  While I wish I was "finished" in March, that's not the plan either.

As a deep part of me laments what is "lost" in my heart of hearts, this suffering is part of life.  

It's the part that reminds me I am not in control.  The part that has me curling up in my bed at night, begging Him to stop my mind and giving thanks for the opportunity to share in a minuscule part of Calvary.

It's the part that has allowed me slowly to give up pieces of my life that were never truly necessary to hold onto...opening up those places in my heart to let Him love me.

Yet sometimes, the wall comes right back up and I cry that I don't want to let go of any more.  And He gently shows me that I have order to allow for the very best He has for me.

Like tiny Agnes clings to me in her distress, I pray for the grace to equally cling to allow Him to love me like I love her.  Even more than I love her.  I was clinging to too much else.

"You've let everything go" the Devil says.

By His grace, I am trying to.

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