Tag Archives: strength

Growing Pains

It was only our second day together, Doug, his parents, and me, but it felt like the 100th. I don’t know how it happens, but it seems that almost every time I visit with someone lately, we all end up in tears. In this case, as in many, those tears were tears were of grief for loved ones lost. Do I feel more connected with my boyfriend’s parents now? Absolutely. Do I feel good about bringing them to tears? Not so much. But as Doug pointed out today, we never really move on when someone we love dies. Instead, we go through a process of acceptance. We’re all trying to accept their absence, just muddling along sometimes, and for me – a year later – still wanting to pick up the phone to call my mom just one more time. Especially on today, her birthday.

I feel that she has never fully left me. Sure, we can’t hop in the car and go shopping together. We can’t go and price new customers & discuss our estimates. And yet, I still have those conversations with her in my mind. That’s how I get through, and how I don’t move on, but I have gained acceptance that I will never again see her here on Earth. The clothes she wears now, don’t start out with pricetags, but with ethereal flow, they’re free just like she is now. Free from Cancer. Free from worry. Free from wonder. I feel like she’s become my cheerleader. My life in the last year has seen some drastic changes that began with her passing and has ended with my stepdad in a new relationship, and with me in the very relationship I was always meant to experience.

For me, death is not just sorrowful and feared, but also life-altering for all those left behind, and not always in a bad way. When my father passed just months before my 12th birthday, my mom and I became closer than we had ever been before. We no longer lived in hospitals, and we spent tons of time finally getting to really know each other after years of tending to dad’s needs. With mom’s passing, I’ve learned so far that life is too fleeting for hesitation, that if we feel compelled to do something or be with someone, that’s exactly what we should do, regardless of the doubts and fears involved. My Faith and confidence are at an all time high, as if she’s whispering in my ear, and I’m listening to her now more than when she was living.

The other not-so-bad thing about death is that the very experience of watching someone we love die, is a bonding experience. Death connects us in a way that nothing else will, because we all must experience it, and we’re all profoundly affected. This becomes a spiritual connection, I believe, and that’s why we share tears. When your spirit becomes part of the conversation, something is moved, something changes, and people unite in grief. Look at 9/11 afterall. That’s not to say that death is the ultimate goal, but it is to say that death is inevitable, and making the best of something so tragic is the healthiest and really, most Godly thing, we can do as humans. We should never shy away from conversations that move us spiritually just because they’re a little painful. Afterall, we still have growing pains, even as adults. It’s just that now, are legs aren’t the target of those pains. Instead, it’s our hearts that must grow, and THAT is a beautiful thing.

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Finding Bottom

“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner that keeps on trying.”  Nelson Mandela

What makes you try? What is it in you that lights your soul on fire and sparks your motivation when you’ve been knocked down time after time?

We’ve all known people who seem to take all of life’s punches with dignity, and keep getting back on their feet. Nothing stands in their way. Period. And just when you think they can take no more, they do.

There are two sides to this phenomenon, at least from my perspective. The first side is that you have to wonder, why must they have to keep overcoming obstacles? Why must some people face so much adversity, when others of us face so little? Where is the justice? Of course, that question comes from a very concrete and human place. When things aren’t neatly tied up with a pretty silver bow like Hollywood would have us believe, we become disgruntled. Things should make sense. Everyone, at some point, asks ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’. But good things also happen to bad people. So, while there is balance, it isn’t the kind of balance that makes logical and judicial sense. Quite simply, we believe that ‘good’ people shouldn’t be punished and ‘bad’ people shouldn’t be rewarded.

The key to understanding this is to not understand it at all, but to (in a sense) give it to God. There is a reason for everything. There is always a reason. If we’re drowning in the details of our mess, we never seem to notice that we can actually touch the bottom and stand if only we stop flailing around, out of control. It isn’t until long after we’ve recovered sometimes that we notice the bottom was there all along, and so was the security. Sometimes we need to get shaken up just to balance out. Yes. We’re like juice…shake before opening!

The other side to this is the resiliency of some people. This has everything to do with that first side, because it has to do with Faith. Have you ever been enraged by something that’s been ‘done to you’ only to realize minutes later that if you had been in their shoes, you may have reacted the same way? Self-awareness makes Faith an easier thing to grasp. But Faith also means understanding that, though you may not feel you deserve what you’re going through, there is a reason. Just like there’s a reason that you’ve been through everything you have before, and survived it.

When I was a Senior in high school, my least favorite english teacher gave us one of the most interesting assignments. She said for each of us to prepare a Valedictorian speech. I would’ve been the Valedictorian too, if it weren’t for the good grades part. But I remember it clearly. My theme was that ‘hope is survival, and survival is hope’. Even as a 17 year-old girl with terrible grades, no motivation, and no prom date, I grasped a bit of this Faith thing. I had survived the death of my father, countless broken hearts, a heaping helping of disappointments, and constellations of pimples, but I still managed to cry myself to sleep only to awaken the next day with hope and a smile.

While that was (sadly) 20 years ago, I’ve learned that my resilience pales in comparison to so many people I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. Yet, in each and every case, the one constant has been Faith. None of these people have been perfect, all have been sinners, but not one of them surrenders to adversity. Faith is contagious. Resiliency is the badge of Faith, but when it’s all said and done it’s the waking up that matters and builds strength. And realizing that you don’t have to hit bottom to know there is one, is reason enough to keep on trying.