Monday, July 30, 2012

Just Can't Talk About It Yet

So much has happened since I wrote my last blogpost.

But I just can't talk about it yet.

The emotions are too near the surface to write about the sweet farewell with my father.

I should record the poignant midnight visit in the ICU when my father found an untapped reservoir of strength that enabled him to sit up in a wheelchair for a meaningful stroll through the quiet corridors; that enabled him to express what was in his heart, though the words were difficult to get out; which also enabled me to tell him the things that were in my heart.

But I can't talk about it yet.

I should write about the following day when this last rush of adrenalin led us to think that Dad had hope for recovery, leading us to tour endless care centers, walking miles of hallways filled with sadness, searching to find a place where Dad wouldn't be too miserable.

I should write about the rally when Dad met the administrator of the care center which we had decided upon.  I should write about the sparkle in his eyes as they talked about their common love of football which even led them to comparing their still impressive calf muscles.

But I can't talk about it yet.

Because the following day, when the adrenalin had fled, my poor sweet father could only speak with his eyes as he gratefully welcomed the ice chips that I spooned into his parched lips.

I can't talk about the ride to the airport, thinking, wondering, praying, hoping that he would hold on for a few more days when I would be able to come back, feeling like I was abandoning him.

I can't talk about the scene I created at the airport gate when, just before I was supposed to board, I got a phone call that he had become unresponsive and all the indicators had severely dropped and my hope of seeing him alive again shattered.

I should talk about the beautiful funeral.

I should talk about the lovely music which filled our hearts with the hope of the Resurrection.

I should talk about the sweet reunion with dear friends and cousins and aunts and uncles who had come to honor this great man, who had blessed all of our lives with his wisdom and his strength and his unfailing support and love.

But I just can't talk about it yet.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On Belay

When I was a kid I learned how to climb.

My natural instinct seemed to be to climb any tree that passed my simple analysis as a tree-climbing tree.  It was liberating to me. When the trees were mastered, I would find ways to climb onto the roof of my home.  I loved the challenge and especially the enhanced view of my little world.

But the best things to climb were mountains and my dad was an expert.

What began with simple climbs of large boulders and learning how to look for holds, soon graduated to larger challenges with ropes and pitons. I still pride myself on knowing what a caribiner was long before they became ubiquitous.

As any climber knows, the cherry on the top of a good climb is the chance to rapel down, a sort of harnessed backwards dancing which eventually brings the climber to the safety of the ground.

The key element to successful rappelling is the skill of the belayer.

A belayer is the climber's partner, who typically applies the friction at the other end of the rope whenever the climber is not moving, removing the friction whenever the climber needs more rope in order to be able to continue climbing or descending as the case may be. A belayer is the safety net between success and failure. I could not fall because my dad was literally my anchor.

I was always very secure in knowing that my dad was my belayer.  He was the strongest man in the world and I knew that in his hands I was safe.  No doubts. Ever. He was a mountain himself.

My belay has become unsteady.

My rock is crumbling. My security is jeopardized.

My father is ready to pass on.

I'm not ready to be off belay.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

At the End of the Day

Have you ever noticed the significance of the common phrase "At the end of the day...."?

'Well, at the end of the day, it all comes down to this....'

'At the end of the day, we still have our health.'

'At the end of the day when all is said and done, this is what I have learned.'

It is a neat and tidy little way to put things in perspective.  It is a neat and tidy little way to draw conclusions, to wrap things up, to prioritize.

I like it.  I think at the end of the day we should all ponder what we have learned, what is important, what we will be carrying with us to the next day.

One of the greatest musicals of all time, Les Miserables, has an 'at the end of the day' moment.  And naturally it is written to music.

"At the end of the day you're another day older." A little pessimistic, but true nonetheless.

Considering the song is sung by the working class, it is permeated with frustration, hopelessness, exhaustion.  And really, at the end of the day I'm tired too, and I worry about the things I have failed to accomplish.

But I would hope that most of the time I cling to another verse that begins:

"At the end of the day there's another day dawning."

We would do well to say: 'perhaps I wasn't able to do all I would have liked, but tomorrow will bring new opportunities, new energy, new minutes and hours.'

I think 'At the end of the day' would be a wonderful theme for a journal (or a blog!). Imagine sitting down (well, you know, at the end of the day) and encapsulating all you have learned because of the day's events.  I think it could be enlightening.  Our days tend to drift and blend together without much to set them apart from one another.  And yet, at the end of the day, each is filled with unique lessons and experiences that may only pass our way once in a lifetime.

I hope that I am taking the time to ponder what I have learned, to ponder the conversations I've had, the people I have encountered, the kindnesses shown, the love expressed.

Because at the end of the day, isn't that what really matters?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Everyone Has Their Own Story

I have been reminded of a truth.  It is an obvious truth, and yet I think it is nice to be reminded of it when we forget and get caught up in thinking that everyone's life runs the same course as everyone else's.

It is true that we all are born.  And yet, I bet every single mother that went into labor has her own unique story of how each child's journey began and ultimately played out in birth, hopefully swaddled with love and wrapped safely in its mother's arms.

It is true that most of us are blessed to pass through the next phase of life called childhood.  We learn to walk, to talk, to interact, to discover ice cream, to learn joy.

Yet my childhood couldn't possibly have been the same as yours, even though we shared many of the same experiences.

Did you find love?  So did I.  Yet how fun it is to hear of each person's unique pathway to discovering it.

No one's proposal story is the same.

No one's path is the same.  Of the billions of people that fill the earth, each lives a unique life.

So why bring up this obvious truth?


It is an invalid argument, invalid worry, invalid boast, invalid anything to think for one moment that our unique life can or should be compared with someone else's.

Rejoice in your life with all of its facets that shine because they are your's alone.

If your life isn't following what would seem "normal", celebrate that!  Why would you want to have the same life as anyone else?

Every person I meet has their own story, as do I.

And I would love to hear about your's.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Straining At the Bootstraps

Do you ever feel that if you try any harder to pull yourself up by the bootstraps, those darn straps are going to break, give way, and send you sailing across the floor?

Perhaps there is a better way.  Perhaps there are other answers, not necessarily solutions, but answers that we need to hear.

I have been fascinated with the illuminating scripture in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians.  He discusses the reality of a thorn in his flesh, which he has come to believe is there for a reason because although he has approached the Lord numerous times to remove it, it continues to beseige him, frustrate him, challenge him....humble him.

Ah.  So maybe that is why we all have challenges that we struggle with.  Is it possible our loving Heavenly Father thinks we may need to be humbled?  Maybe we really aren't as invincible as we think we are.  Maybe there are still a few things we need to learn.  Maybe the Lord is saying to us, as He said to Paul: 'No, Paul, you need this weakness to remind you every day that you rely on me' (2 Cor. 12:7-9).

Through what I believe was divine intervention, a couple of weeks ago I came across a talk given at the 2002 BYU Women's Conference by Stephen E. Robinson. Seldom has a message been driven home on such a personal level.  Maybe there are others that needed to hear this, but I truly think the Lord wanted me, alone, to hear it. Otherwise how could the words have struck such a chord with me?

He reminded me that longsuffering is a virtue.  He reminded me that just as we cannot fast and pray and study to heal a broken leg, neither can we always fast or pray or study to correct very real chemical imbalances and other physical shortcomings. 

He reminded me that we will be able to overcome all things through Christ, but in His way and in His time.  Sometimes the hurt will not be taken away immediately, even though we are desperately ready for it to be gone.

The name of the address is "With Healing in His Wings," referring to the scripture in Malachi 4:2 which promises of the coming day of our Savior when "the Sun of righteousness (will) arise with healing in his wings."

He reminds us that though we desire to have all our pains and fears and hardships taken away immediately, we may have to wait upon the Lord, trusting that He knows best what we need to learn. 

But relief will come.  It really will. And perhaps when it does, we will have become stronger, more full of faith, more trusting in Him to do what remains undone, to overcome our enemies, and take us home to live with Him once again.

If we are patient, our adversity and our afflictions shall be but a small moment.

"And God shall wipe away all tears from (our) eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain..." (Revelation 21:4).

Oh, how thankful I am to know my Savior.  Oh, how thankful I am to trust in Him.  May we persevere together and look forward to that glorious day when He will come again with healing in his wings.