I am glad I am writing these posts now, because I think if I would have written all of this when I was “in” it, I would have probably been fairly despondent and cranky. Like I said at the beginning, I am feeling *great* right now. Of course, I am still “recovering.” I can’t lift Philomena or push a shopping cart, and I get sore and tired easily. Nevertheless, I feel so much better than I did even last week that it gives me hope for a full recovery. Not going to lie, there were moments in which I felt I would never get better.
While I was “in” the suffering, I kept hearing about truly difficult situations: a friend’s baby having his second heart surgery in his 8 months of life; someone diagnosed with cancer; a relative close to dying; a friend’s brother dying; and many more. Of course, hearing about these situations gave me “perspective” on my own little difficulties. And yet, it provoked something greater in me. I talk quite a bit about the “beauty” in suffering, but when you’re in it, the suffering feels pretty darn ugly. Truly. But, I guess that’s the point. So much of our existence is lived trying to rid ourselves of any suffering, pain, or inconvenience, be it physical, emotional, spiritual. However, we can never totally eradicate it. Suffering is part of our human experience. We are fallen; we are broken. We need to accept that in order to accept the answer to it.
And not to get too preachy, but the beauty comes in the reality that we have a God who took on all of our humanity, even the brokenness. I mean, Christ’s passion and death was probably pretty ugly, right? During my “lowest” moments this past month when I really struggled to have hope, that is when I encountered Him most profoundly…because I had to. That is the most beautiful of all needs.
And beauty? It was there. It was so there. I have never felt more loved by friends and family than I did in these weeks. As I said before, I was inundated with cards, phone calls, emails, texts that were incredibly sincere, supportive, and prayerful. Friends invited Ryan over for food and company during his lonely days in Wichita. Someone at our parish mowed our lawn without being asked. People sent up gifts for Philomena. A priest friend offered a novena of Masses for me. We received giftcards for gas and other expenses. My household sisters from college actually filmed a succession of videos that told an intricate story to entertain me in the hospital. My aunt and uncle were the most gracious of hosts for the five weeks. My mother-in-law took off a whole week of work for when we were supposed to return. We received a moving “spiritual bouquet” from friends at our church. Now that we’re home, people are bringing us meals, helping watch Mena, and being my “personal shopper” [that would be my sister]. The list goes on.
And yet, the gold star for generosity goes to my mother. She lovingly took care of Philomena and me without ever once complaining. Where they were staying was 20-30 minutes from the hospital, but she still made the drive with Mena twice every. single. day, so I could have a few precious hours with my daughter. And she still cooked and cleaned and took care of all of us. She and my dad had to cancel a vacation to Boston, which they did without a second thought.
I already wrote about how extraordinary Philomena was during this time. My heart was so moved by her witness to me.
Then there’s Ryan, who drove to/from Omaha five (!!!) times, all while balancing a full-time job and two classes. He never complained either. Seriously. I think I was the only one doing all the complaining.
I suppose this is my way of saying thank you for all of the kindness and prayers. My body was broken, but my heart is full.