The Storm Rages On

Photo courtesy of Frum Philly Farmgirl

When I was growing up, I was...a bit of a handful to say the least.  Actually I was more like a terrorist from the age of 13 on, wreaking utter havoc and total chaos on the house in my emotionally charged, highly hormonal teenage fashion.  Whenever I would mess up, my dad would rant and rave, scream and carry on and then after the dust had settled would say, "If I had known what was coming, I wouldn't have been so upset with the last catastrophe."  Words to live by indeed.

The past month has been full of utter havoc and total chaos in not just my house, but my family.  After the death of my grandmother three weeks ago, we found out last week that my mother has breast cancer, then that my cousin would need neck surgery, then that another family member had suffered a heart attack all on top of the other cousin that has been fighting cancer since December.  We rounded out last week with another death for an in laws granny.  Seriously.  Some perspective would be greatly appreciated right now.

I am in a place that I can only tread to stay afloat, with just my nose out of the water.  My lips are pursed tightly so that I not only don't scream, but I don't drown as well.    The absolutely shitty thing is that sometimes life happens all at once.  You are pounded from every side with bad news, frustrating annoyances, and life altering diagnosis at precisely the same, wrong time.  You are overwhelmed by everything that could go wrong and did in a few moments that have forever altered your path. 

The amazing thing is that you realize some things about yourself and your support system that you didn't know before.  Like that when facing crisis, an intimacy is created in a family that has been missing for awhile when you walk the path of disease, healing, and grief together.  That friends remain so faithful and supportive when you are not able to even ask how their day has been, much less give back.  That there is this really cool thing your mind does when it shifts into neutral (grocery lists, garden plants needed, how many bags of mulch, etc) so that it can process big information and you not come unravelled while it's processing.  That there is an overwhelming, guttural desire to survive so you research survival options, tap any resource available, and find the very best doctors that the world of medicine has to offer because your primal reaction is to defeat it.  That life hasn't ended with tragedy so big, it is just altered, forever something else, something bigger and more than you ever conceived possible, pushing you to grow and expand who you are in order to not just survive, but thrive again.  That there is a well of strength that you never knew you had until you had to tap it in order to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.  That courage and bravery looks a lot like a woman standing in the middle of terrible fear in a doctor's office, facing an uncertain future in spite of that fear, and not so much like swords, shields, and dragon stuff.  That faith- whatever that is to each person- plays a tremendous role in moving forward on a path that is still rocky, but making the journey with surer footing. 

That you are not alone.

I don't have any idea what comes after this particular moment in which I am existing.  It is still a little too much to think about what I am cooking for dinner, let alone what fresh, new hell tomorrow brings.  I have faith it will be a less emotional place soon (Sweet Baby Jesus let it be less emotional soon).  I know that I continue to be surprised at the beauty and capacity of the human spirit.  I know that I grow stronger and more adaptable with every new challenge that brings me to my knees.  I pray that I can continue to learn and grow from these experiences with half of the grace that my mother shows daily.  I know that whatever uncertainty I face, I will have an army at my back that looks a lot like my family and friends.

"The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun."

~Napoleon Hill

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