I Think I Can Breathe Again…

This was originally written in 2013…

Puddle Jumping

Steven Curtis Chapman says it best…

I don’t even wanna breathe right now
All I wanna do is close my eyes
But I don’t wanna open them again
Until I’m standing on the other side
I don’t even wanna be right now
I don’t wanna think another thought
And I don’t wanna feel this pain I feel
And right now, pain is all I’ve got.”

Today was a hard day.

Let me back up.

Three days ago I waved good-bye to my son, his wife, and my two grandchildren as they drove down the street, on their way to Northern Idaho to a new home, to new jobs, to a new life. Now instead of twelve minutes away, it’s fifteen hours.

My two grandchildren, one five and the other, one year old. My two grandchildren, who I have watched almost since day one. Every day. All day while mom and dad were at work.

I helped them learn to walk. Eat with a spoon. Drink from a cup.

I sat in that rocking chair over there, and rocked them to sleep. Sang hymns to them. Read to them about the “pants with nobody inside of them” (Dr. Suess). Held them when they were sick or healthy or when they just wanted to be held.

I sat at that table over there and played games with Boo, colored, painted, had tea parties.

And then one day, not long ago, my son announced a new job opportunity and you can guess the rest and that’s why I stood outside on Sunday morning, waving good-bye to a car filled with precious ones.

And Sunday, after they left, I went to the rose garden and everywhere I walked I heard Boo. I saw her chasing the blackbirds. And I could hear her excitement upon finally seeing the elusive jack rabbit we’ve been tracking for months – if only she had been there.

And Monday I worked in the garden and watered her garden – a garden filled with volunteer larkspur, bachelor buttons, poppies. She was so proud of her garden. I worked out there most all day. I worked out there until I couldn’t move. I worked out there so I didn’t have to think.

And Tuesday, yesterday, I still couldn’t move. I moved too much on Monday and paid for it on Tuesday. I had lost mobility and.. gained pain in its place. I sat on the couch and worked on my pictures and cried. My digital albums are filled with children’s smiles and I could almost hear the giggles behind them.

And then there was today. At one point I felt like I had been locked in a blackened room – hopeless, lost, empty. And I wept. For something lost. And it felt as if my heart was literally breaking in two. The crack I could live with a week ago became a bottomless crevice. The strength that held me together a week ago had become jello.

And I wept.
God, how am I going to do this?, I whispered through tears that hadn’t spilled out so hard in so long.

My head told me those two little ones were not mine to hold onto. I was not even their parent. Can a Grammy love her little Grammy grandchildren so very much?

Yes. Yes – she most definitely can.

As I sat on the bathroom floor, I cried some more and through the tears whispered, God, I lived for those kids.

They were my daily dose of laughter, love, smiles, hugs, joy. God used those two little ones to bless me over and above in so many ways I never deserved. I viewed them as my little disciples and we talked about God everywhere we went. In everything we did.

How I found the energy to do it every day, only God knows. I napped with John and napped when they went home. I fought through the pain within my body and refused to not hold my grandkids or change diapers even when I didn’t think I could stand it another minute.
My body was screaming to let go. My heart was screaming to hold on. My head was saying it was time. Time to listen to the body. The disease that strives to claim more ground with each passing day. Time to let go.

It was the grace of God that intervened. But oh how it can hurt.

And then I heard it. That still, small voice that you can hear when you’re sobbing uncontrollably because your not busy talking and making incessant, un-needful noise and chatter. The comforting, life-giving voice of God.

God, I lived for those kids, I had whispered through tears.

And before I could go on to the next thought of despair, He whispered back.

“Live for me.”

The uncontrollable sobbing became controlled. The tears dried up (for that day). A tiny ray of sunshine, a tiny grain of hope took hold deep inside my heart and the crevice began to close and return to a crack. A few more tears fell. Not from grief but because of grace. The grace of God. The trustworthy grace of a merciful God.

I don’t know what living for Him looks like in the days ahead – His plans, His dreams for me – but as I live for Him, I will trust Him completely. I’ve been through too much in my lifetime to do anything less.

Like I said, Steven Curtis Chapman says it best…

I don’t wanna feel this pain I feel
And right now, pain is all I’ve got.
It feels like it’s all I’ve got, but I know it’s not
No, I know You’re all I’ve got
And I will trust You, I’ll trust You
Trust You, God, I will
Even when I don’t understand, even then I will say again
You are my God, and I will trust You.
Trust You. I will trust You.

Even when I don’t understand the physical, emotional, or mental pain, I will trust Him.

Running Into His Arms

IMG_7318.JPGWhen my son was born, until the age of almost three, he had constant ear infections. After the third or fourth time, it became easier to identify that another was coming on and I could get him to the doctor before it became too painful. Most of the time.

I do recall one experience, having that motherly instinct of knowing he was getting another and taking him in to the doctor. His regular doctor was out and another doctor saw him. He assured me after checking him briefly that there was no cause for worry. I wanted to assure him that I was most certain he was wrong.

At twelve o’clock that night, my son woke up screaming, his ear filled with pain. I did everything I could to help him. I gave him Tylenol. I held him. I rocked him. I cried with him. He screamed in pain until morning.

A few weeks ago, I had an ear infection. It began with a gradual achiness followed by intense pain and pressure for about five days, at which time I felt it was going to burst and to be quite honest, I almost wanted it to just to relieve the pain and the pressure.

No one ever gave me Tylenol. No one held or rocked me or saw me crying in the dark when I could not sleep because the pain was so intense, but then, they did not know because I was not crying out in agony.

This is what I learned…

When my son, at the age of two, was in pain, he writhed in discomfort and screamed for release from the grip of his ear infection. Oh how I wanted to comfort him and hold him tight so that he knew he was not alone. I rocked him to try to soothe him and as I held him closely, I cried with him, wanting badly to be able to take his pain away.

When I was in pain a few weeks ago, for the most part, I kept it inside. No one else needed to hear how much it really hurt. No one could rock me and comfort me and it made me think… Isn’t that what God wants us to do with him? Yet, we try to keep the pain in our lives and the heartache we experience hidden deep inside, when all the while He is waiting for us to cry out to Him for help.

A friend was saying that another of her friends was not going to be able to do an event that they had planned for this year. She said the other person had been having some recent struggles and had to cancel. Then she withdrew and ‘disappeared’ (not literally) from her network of friends. My friend made a comment that went something like this: “I’ve told her there’s still a spot for her on the team, but she’s got to walk through the door.”

I liked that.

Do I sit and suffer, failing to run through the door crying out to God for relief? The only One who can truly subside the pain? Do I writhe in pain when it hurts so bad inside that I think I cannot tolerate it for another minute or do I run quickly, first, to the One whose arms are always open wide and waiting? The pain of life can come in a foreclosure on the only home you have known. A divorce. An illness. The loss of a loved one. You lose your job. The list goes on.

Sometimes that is the only thing we can and should do. Sometimes that is the best thing to do. To become like a child and run into the arms God and just let Him hold you and rock you. Let Him soothe you and wipe the tears as He wraps you safely in His arms.

He is waiting to love you. Are you ready to be loved as only He can do? Then… Run!

How Do You Say Goodbye?

A dear friend of mine went to the hospital for ‘routine’ surgery. On the operating table, they discovered her body was full of cancer.  That was last Friday.  Today is Monday.  She is not expected to live past this evening.

And still, she smiles. She jokes.  With a little less life, a little less breath, she smiles and she jokes as she tells the doctor to get back to work because she has nothing to do but wait for her eyes to close.  She smiles because she knows when her eyes close what she will see when she opens them again.

I told her to tell Jesus that I want a yellow house, just like the one her and I and another friend use to go to for lunch and pie.  Always pie. Always a la mode.  Always.  Sometimes we may not have wanted the soup or the sandwich (rarely), but always the pie.  As you can sense, it was good pie.  We always ordered two slices of pecan a la mode and one slice of sour cream and raisin a la mode.  Warmed just a tad bit.

One day we went flower picking.  Dahlias in bright pinks, yellows, reds, purples.  Petals of practically every color of the rainbow greeted us as we pushed open the wooden gate to her friend’s backyard.  A backyard of dahlias covered the bare dirt and stood up to six feet tall.  She snipped and clipped blooms while I snapped pictures of every one I could.  We laughed.  We talked.  It was one of the highlights of my life.  A bright summer day.

I used to work in a church office. Someone received a bouquet of beautiful red roses and I had to deliver them to the recipient.  How I wished they had been for me.  As I rounded the corner going back to my office, my dear, dear, dear, dear friend was there.  She was holding a green glass vase full of deep and light purple lilacs that she had clipped in her yard and brought to me.  The fragrance seeped into my soul and refreshed my spirit.  She was my angel that day.  She loved flowers as much as I did.

She will be Home in a few hours.  The angels must be setting the table as I write.  They are probably humming as they go – excited by the near arrival of mydear friend.  We who are left behind however, weep the loss of this saint.  This one who frowned upon gossip and never said an unkind word about anyone.  This one near 80 years old, who giggled like a little girl. This one who had the gift of encouragement and sent handmade cards regularly and often to cheer others up.  This friend who, when there was a need, did what she could.  This one I call dear.  This one the Father calls Beloved.

I shiver when I look up into the sky and think this could be the moment when Christ is standing at the gate, welcoming her home in His arms.  I thank my God that two weeks ago I made the time to sit with her while I was in hers state and share lunch.  Her and our other dear friend.  Just like old times.  Two of my very favorite people. .

My dahlias are blooming.  When I look at them I think of my friend.  When I look at them from now on, I will remember her.  Her smile, her spirit, her giggle, her generosity, and her ability to bring sunshine into the lives of so many others.

I will miss you so much, dear, sweet friend.  But I know that someday I will see you again.  And when I do, we’ll enjoy some ‘heavenly’ pecan pie – a la mode, of course.  And the fellowship will be oh so sweet.