Barring people who cut in line and chew with their mouths open, forgetting all those episodes when your technology won’t work and you are entirely ill-equipped to handle the situation (both logically and emotionally), and excluding moments of deep forgetfulness wherein it seems that everything you ever set down will never be found again, it is in fact life’s unpredictabilities, its curveballs if you will, that are perhaps the most unnerving.
At the beginning of this year Adam’s dad suffered a major stroke, the magnitude of which was initially unclear. It was clear, however, that we needed to be home right away. We headed back to Kansas after being in Switzerland for only ten days and remained there for exactly two months. Those two months were, without any hint of doubt, the hardest and most challenging of our lives.
The stroke, a hugely traumatic event in itself, led to more complications than we could have ever imagined, and thus led to more anxiety, worry, and frustration. Frustration because we felt helpless and scared and vulnerable. We learned medical jargon, read up on the brain, and educated ourselves as thoroughly as we could. We all became immersed in the density that encompasses recovery from the edge of the unknown.
It was a frightening time and I won’t go in to the emotional hijinks that overwhelmed us each day (and, if I’m being completely honest, continue to in some degree to this day). Instead, I’m focusing on the positive, the remarkable, the miraculous. Adam’s dad is in recovery now and growing stronger each day. He is fighting a seemingly impossible battle to reclaim his life that was disrupted beyond our imaginings only a few months ago. He is doing better and feeling better, and we continue to count our most precious blessings every day.
Life’s unpredictabilities are powerful and humbling experiences. We like to think we have a plan, a program in place to stave off the creeping boredom and at-times numbing monotony that inevitably takes over our quotidian life. Plans and structure give us a sense of control in a chaotic society, so it’s no wonder we cling to them so fiercely. But what I have learned recently is that no plan is the best plan. Not in a nihilist, complete laissez faire sense, but in a way that helps me relinquish some control and loosen my grip on what I think the next year, five years, ten years, should look like. “Should”, right? What a funny, complex word that can complete derail our best intentions.
It feels like we’ve had some really rotten luck this year, in areas both big and small. It can be easy to feel discouraged and hopeless, and sometimes indulging in those dramatic feelings can be cathartic and generous to one’s fragile self. But–and go with me on this–attitude is everything. Embracing the positive throughout the negative, looking for signs of goodness and strength in the bleakest of moments are when we define who we are and the impact we make on our world. Acknowledge the heartache, the sadness, the absolute crumminess of what is out there–do not deny what is truly there!–yet refuse to let it determine your course. There are beacons of hope and glimmers of positivity in the worst moments we face. Maybe they don’t always coincide, and maybe we have to give them time to show themselves, but they are there.
Whatever you are facing, or have yet to face this year, that is especially challenging and overwhelming, please know that you are not alone with your grief. It can be hard to talk about these events; they are revealing and exposing, making us more sensitive to criticism and pain. But they are a part of life, and we are all experiencing life in varying degrees. I find comfort in that universality.
I’m happy to be back in this space. I look forward to making it a positive and upbeat journal, but also one that acknowledges the grittier aspects of our life. I’ve been reading a ton so there are quite a few editions of Tuesday Book Club that I must attend to. I haven’t shared our wedding photos, which I am eager to do. And Adam and I have some pretty exciting travel coming up this year, so of course we will have pictures and travelogues to share. 2015 has been rough so far, but I’m hopeful that it’s going to shine bigger and brighter for us soon.