Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Feelin' philosophical ...

The last several days, weeks and months have been filled with trials and tribulations. And I don't say that flippantly. There have been struggles in many aspects of my life, most predominantly with the deaths of my three grandmothers, but I've been noticing the "struggle" theme coming up in many, many, MANY facets of my day-to-day being. And I've started to slowly, finally connect a few dots and get a glimpse of the bigger picture.

With hardship, with getting through the seemingly unbearable, there is a light at the other end of the tunnel and it is beautiful.

This last year has perhaps been one of the longest and most productive I've ever felt. There was happy, there was sad, there was thrill and there was downright depressing. And when I look back on the year, I feel like I've grown. I feel like I've lived, not just existed. I've come out the other end better for all the headaches and pain.

The pain ... it's brought me back to contemplate the births of my three younguns. All born at home, no drugs and not necessarily the easiest of labors. It was painful, it sucked, and I was momentarily crazy ... but once they were born, there was peace. I'm not overly frou-frou when it comes to childbirth; I'm mostly scared of doctors. I'm pretty blunt about the realities of pregnancy and the ups and downs of parenthood. But I can honestly say upon reflection, this was one of my first real-life "ahas" where I finally understood the miracle of sacrifice. About how suffering can bring even greater peace, even pleasure once you get to the other side.

It's a theme that's been reflected this past year mostly in death. I've long been scared of death and its finality. But this past year I've witnessed the final hours of one grandmother begging please ... begging for what the loved ones who surrounded her can only guess was freedom from her pain; she was ready. This was the first time death had truly hit home as something more than death to me. It was real, and painful to us survivors, but so obviously freeing for her. Then there was my step-grandmother, who we found out after her sudden death had written letters to God to take her home once she'd gotten everything in order. And, finally, the death of my grandmother and second mother. A woman who'd lived with verve, and whose final months were a mix of good moments with her and her vast and ever-expanding family, and many more moments that were so obviously torture to her memory faded and her pain increased. With her passing, we know the pain we feel is for ourselves; we know that her soul is free once again.

This year of needed reflection then brings me back to the here, the now, the years I likely have left on Earth. Brings me to the struggles that may occur in the many other aspects of my life, and I have a different perspective than I would have just a year ago. A year ago, some of the struggles and the imperfect situations I've been faced with, either on my own or as a group ... they no longer look as daunting or as cursed. I see opportunity.

In the face of adversity, I now see opportunity.

And I hope ... I wish ... I indeed pray that I'm able to hang on to that vantage point for the rest of my life ... because hope is a beautiful thing.


manleyj said...

Beautiful perspective. Thank you (sniffle...).

Camille said...

I compltely agree with you. The light on the otherside completes the painful journey of losing our loved ones, and the pain we feel is only because we've been left behind with this void, but we know that they are happy and experiencing life in a new way and that gives us comfort.

I know that without my mother's passing, I would not be who I am today, and I am stronger and wiser for it...though I would trade anything to still have her here...sort of a catch 22...

Jenny said...

Such wonderful statements. Also got me thinking about your birth stories. I thought about you guys when I was in labor. How wonderful and strong you were. How inspiring your stories. Then, with my beautiful perfect epidural in place, I took a nap. :)

Kate said...

Oh, c'mon, are you trying to make me cry?