This post is the sharing of something personal because today was a huge day in my world. For over a year now, I have been working toward completing a book that tells the story of the journey I took with my best friend, Annette Christophe, as she fought brain cancer. It has been an interesting process for me as I relived every moment, every joy and pain. There were times I thought I couldn’t stand the emotional toll any longer and feared I would have to abandon the project, but my soul wouldn’t let me quit. As a result, I got to take a new journey with her spirit that affected me in so many ways. Today that book was published and made available to the public. I thought I was prepared for the emotions of the book finally becoming reality, but I underestimated it all.The moment I found out the book was published early and was now in the public realm, I was elated! In some ways it was like a huge weight was lifted and I was overwhelmingly joyful. I wanted to shout from the mountain tops and share the moment with those closest to me! Then things started to settle a bit, and I became extremely weepy and unable to control my tears. I suddenly missed Annette terribly and at the same time felt her presence stronger than ever. I feel like she is looking down right now, so proud of the accomplishment and endurance of what it took to bring our story to life. I believe she is celebrating with me in spirit and I would swear I feel her hugging me. When I stop and get quiet, it is almost more than I am able to stand or wrap my heart around.
How We Said Goodbye is, to date, my greatest creative accomplishment…for so many reasons. But it’s more than that. It is a journey that has changed my life once again. It has opened me up completely again to Annette’s spirit and what she represents in my life. It has been almost 17 years since she passed and the telling of our story felt long overdue…until I understood that God’s timing is perfect. Even if I had tackled the writing of the book years ago, I would have been swallowed up in the intense emotions that accompanied its creation. Instead, it happened when it was supposed to happen, and I am thankful for the fact it has finally come to fruition.
So I guess I want to say thank you to those of you who have been with me on this journey. Some of you knew Annette and have known of our journey from the very beginning. Some of you feel like you know Annette through knowing me and hearing me talk about her over the years. Some of you never knew Annette and some of you have never met me….but ALL of you have been a part of this process in one way or another. Whether through your support of me by simply reading this blog or by being someone in my literal world who has held my hand or my heart throughout the process in the past year…I would not be here without you and I am overwhelmed by your support. Annette would love to see how she has brought so many people together…even those she never met.
It’s a beautiful and emotional day. And today, I celebrate Annette’s spirit and thank God for the gift of her presence in the most amazing ways. I will carry her with me always.
p.s. You can read about the book by clicking on the “Books” tab at the top of the page.
Last week I posted a picture I had painted and added the following caption: “Desertion – whether real or perceived…whether intentional or not…feels just the same.” That may sound like I’m about to start whining but I’m not. If you’ve read the “About Me” page, you know I am not wired like most of the people around me. My brain chemistry allows me to experience wonderful moments of great creativity and passion and gives me both the desire and ability to express what is contained in the depths of my soul. It also has the potential for dragging me into places from which it is very difficult to crawl out. I spent the past couple of weeks trying to walk uphill on a slippery slope until I finally gave in and tumbled down into the dark. It didn’t matter that I knew I had support from those who love me because my wiring, coupled with my circumstances, had overshadowed my knowledge with a feeling of loneliness I couldn’t seem to escape.
So often we get stuck in the midst of our difficulties. It is human nature for us to falter and stumble in spite of what we know to be true. For me, I know God is in control but when it comes down to it, I often don’t truly trust Him to take care of me. We don’t have the ability to see down the road so we scramble, plan and try to rely on our own strength to work things out. We can’t see ahead and know what God has in store for our lives but HE knows. He knows the blessings He has in store for us even though we can’t imagine them. He knows what exciting things He is going to bring to us down the road even though today our life may seem overshadowed with difficulty or depressive days.
As I reflected on these things, I was struck with the image of a father who has an incredible gift for his child and can’t wait for the child to unwrap it.
We can all relate to times when we can hardly wait to give something to someone because we know it is just the “perfect” gift. It’s hard for us to have it in our possession and not give it to them prematurely because we know how much it will mean to them. It’s hard to watch them have to wait and possibly even be sad as they think we have forgotten to get them something. Then I think of our Heavenly Father knowing the journey of our lives before we even take our first breath and knowing all He has in store for us. As He watches the ebb and flow of our lives as His children, He sees the struggles we face but He knows what’s coming. He feels our tears but He knows what’s coming. In spite of how hard it may be to watch us succeed and fail, or learn the lessons we must, He knows what’s coming and He knows it is GREAT! He has an incredible gift in store for us and can hardly wait for us to be able to unwrap it…when the time is right. I imagine Him looking at us and thinking, “I know it’s difficult right now but if you could just see what is about to come into your world, you would be SO excited. It is going to amaze you!” And yet we spend so many of our days trying to just get through the things in our lives. We struggle with our faith and often have difficulty believing God is even aware of how terrible we feel. We forget He is always with us, guiding us to a place where He can share incredible blessings with us. We think He has forgotten. We forget how much He truly loves us.
And then it happens.
We find ourselves with a blessing so great it seems almost miraculous. We are stunned. Our lives are changed. We are thankful beyond words. We are amazed. We realize the struggles we have been dealing with were nothing more than layers of paper we had to unwrap in order to have such an incredible gift revealed to us. What a wonderful moment for our Father when the time finally comes for us to receive what He had in store for us all along. He gets to experience our sincere excitement and amazement at what He has done. I can see Him sitting there, with love in His eyes asking “When are you going to understand that I am not only working everything together for your good, but to bring you to a place where I can give you amazing things?” These are the moments when most of us are brought to our knees in gratitude, which causes us to realize how weak our faith has become, which then brings us to a place of humility where we remember again that God really IS control and will stop at nothing to give us an abundant life…no matter what it takes.
Sometimes I think that is the greater gift.
Yesterday I had one of “those” kinds of days. You know the kind I’m talking about: You wake up late, rush to get dressed and grab some type of makeshift breakfast. Then you take off for work and get behind a slow driver who tests the limits of your patience. Your lunch hour is filled with personal errands so you have to stop and grab something at a mini-mart for lunch. Work seems to be nothing but putting out fire after fire with no break at all in the madness. Then you finally head for home (after working late, of course) to tackle all the personal things you need to get done but things just keep going wrong. You try to limit the negativity in your home but just can’t stand the thought that anyone around you is taking time to rest or goof off instead of doing things in the house that need to be done (dishes, laundry, you name it)! Yep, yesterday was one of those days. I even got mad at my husband because he just didn’t seem to share my irritation over things cluttering up the kitchen and living room. Was it a terrible mess? No, not at all, but I had absolutely had enough!
Days like yesterday test more than just my patience. They often wear me down and drain me of what seems like the last drop of energy I may ever have. Yes, I realize that is an exaggeration but it sure feels that way at times. As I stood over the kitchen sink doing dishes, I couldn’t help but think of all the times I have let unmet expectations drag me into the mire of anger and disappointment. Unmet expectations not only have the ability to create a frustrating day, they can also drag us into a depressive funk that can linger on for hours, days, weeks or even months at a time. It can become a cycle that begins to feed on itself. Soon we find ourselves viewing everything in a negative light or with a defeatist attitude. We start believing things never work out or that the good things really are “too good to be true” instead of celebrating the positive things in life.
All of us have expectations of the people in our lives and the world around us. We expect others to be respectful. We expect to be loved by the people we love. We expect honesty and compassion. We expect all kinds of things but sometimes we fail to see our expectations realized. I used to think it didn’t matter if my expectations were met. I also lived many years feeling as if I didn’t have the right to expect anything from anyone. It seemed selfish to expect things from others so I lived not only with the disappointment of being let down but also the guilt of having expected anything in the first place. Ugh…a double hit to the psyche! I am positive I’m not the only one who has struggled with this mindset at times.
Being let down by others is a reality of life. For me, I realized just how much my expectations of others were based on how I treated them or expressed my love and care for them. We’ve all been taught the “Golden Rule” – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It sounds fair, right? What we miss in that verse is that it says “as you would have them do unto you.” It doesn’t guarantee that our treatment of others (or the world around us) will cause us to get the same in return. It doesn’t say if we are nice and helpful that people will be the same toward us. It doesn’t say if we put others first they will put us first and it doesn’t say if we love them they will love us as well. It calls us to a higher plane that keeps us from wasting our energy seeking reciprocity OR retribution! We are all imperfect human beings and our imperfections lead us to sometimes having unrealistic expectations of others. Those imperfections also cause us to sometimes be unable to live up to the expectations of those around us. (I’ll talk about that aspect more at a later time!) I’ve been let down by people I thought were capable of certain behaviors and responses only to find out later that they just weren’t wired that way. I have been there to support, love and care for people who have been oblivious to the times when I have been the one to need the same love and care. It hurts deeply when we feel like our relationships or endeavors in life are one-sided, even if the reality is they are more equal than we are able see when we are hurting or upset. We will be disappointed in life but if we let our disappointment become the fuel for more darkness in our world then the darkness wins! Let’s go back and look at my day again with a new perspective:
- I woke up late…..becomes….I am alive.
- I got stuck behind slow drivers….becomes…I have a reliable means to get to where I’m going.
- Lunch was filled with errands and mini-mart food…becomes…I am fortunate that I can take care of personal matters during the day instead of trying to do it after hours. Mini-mart food may not be my first choice, but I am grateful to have something to eat.
- Work was full of “fires.” …becomes…I have a good job with a good company in this very difficult economy.
- I got home late…becomes…I have a place to call “home” that is safe and warm.
- My husband irritated me…becomes…I have someone who loves and accepts me as I am.
It’s amazing how different things appear when we turn on the light of the truth and shine it on the darkness of our earthly perspective! I could say “shame on me” for letting the day get the best of me but instead I choose to say “I’m human.” Thank God today is another day!