Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What Have I Learned?

Everybody says, "I don't know how you've done it, Sherry."  And, when I look back, I sometimes wonder too.  First Jed's fall into quadriplegia, the financial disaster that brought, years of care taking, sudden realization that cancer would steal Jed, becoming a widow and then getting breast cancer a few months after losing the love of my life.  That's enough for a while.  Six and a half years of education.  Can't say I'm glad it all happened, but I can say I'm a better person for taking the journey.

So what have I learned?  First and foremost, God is in control.  Makes no sense to fight it.  Peace may come slowly, but it comes sooner with the realization that you simply are not in charge.  Now, that doesn't mean sit around and do nothing.  It means take all the energy, anger, sadness, frustration and just plain disbelief and fight against everything of injustice while at the same time realizing it's God that giving you the ability to do it.

I've learned to accept help; from any and everybody!  From the very beginning I simply could not have managed without the hundreds of people who seemed to be there right when I needed them.  We were showered with food and carpentry and equipment and care.  We had debts forgiven and joy delivered.  We spent most of our lives together rather independent of others, but our journey changed all of that for my good.

I've learned that darkness doesn't hang around forever.  In the midst of some of the worst of it, I was sure we could not survive intact.  Survive seems the wrong word, since Jed has died, but survive we did, in multi-color.  Until cancer took him quickly we lived very joyfully, shockingly joyful. Laughter colored our days and filled our nights with silliness.  Even the dark and awful times of missing him have been painted over with lovely memories rather than sharp pain.  And, when I was challenged to my core with breast cancer I can now laugh at the fact that my dog used my prosthetic breast as a chew toy.  Darkness does not hang around forever, unless, of course you want it too.  You do have to be open to the small beam of light sneaking in the deepest, darkest corners of your shock and pain.

I've learned to really see people.  Every day new people walk into my life in the shop; some of them crazy, some of them thieves, some of them pitiful, some in great pain, and some not affected by life's cruel stories.  Most are just down to earth honest people spending a little of their time with me.  Some know my story and tell me they've been praying, most are just looking for something to brighten their day.  But they all like being treated with a bit of kindness and a smile, and they all love to share their story.  Just this week I talked with a young girl who was so happy to get a pair of boots that actually worked for her prosthetic foot.  She shared her story of the car accident and the pain that she lives with still after many years.  She left with a pair of boots that Angie no longer needed and we were both filled with the awareness that it's good to really see people.

I probably always knew this, being raised a farm girl and all, but it's been reinforced these past few years.  It's okay to cuss and cry and drink and scream, even to doubt and hate.  It's not all about praise and thankfulness and giving into the spirit.  God knows it takes time.

And so, now what's next?  That takes me back to #1, God's in control.  Some people say, "you're so strong..." or many forms of that message.  Bottom line is, just like the young girl with the new boots said as she told her story, "It's not like I had a choice about it."  The only thing I have a choice about is what I take from it.  My heart is full.  My memories are beautiful, and tomorrow will be better because of what I've learned today, and if I can help someone else on their journey then I was there for them when they needed me.  Life is pretty simple.  Like my daily prayer, "help me be kind and make good decisions.  Amen 

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