Out with the old and in with the new. At least that’s what many say as one year ends and a new one begins. Like most people, as the year ends, I often think back to the preceding twelve months in hopes of gleaning some type of useful information that could possibly help make the upcoming year better. I don’t believe in living in the past, but I do believe that one can learn by looking at the past. So, as I look back on 2014, I see some common threads woven among the twelve months. Some of those threads are pleasant to look at–like a tapestry woven by a skilled yarn worker; others are not so pleasant. In fact, they are outright painful and, when viewed in the big picture, they almost seem to mar the beauty that was almost evident. I’ll get back to that thought at the end of this entry.
If I were forced to label the year 2014 with one word, I would have to say the word “difficult” is the first that comes to mind. The difficulties started right away as January brought extreme weather conditions to our area of the country. Now, please understand, I love extremely cold temperatures. When the mercury in the thermometer drops below zero and there is enough wind to cause wind chills in the negative double digits, I am thrilled. It is in those temperatures that I enjoy a walk in the elements. Few things in nature feel as good to me as the bite of a bitter wind on my face. The only problem with this particular cold snap, though, was it brought with it snow which immediately turned to ice on the roads. In temperatures below zero, no chemicals make an impact on the road surfaces. When one is a mom who has a husband or child that commutes to work or school, those road conditions equal one big worry. I spent much of the early part of the year in that state of worry.
February brought a wedding. A joyous occasion for sure, but also a difficult one as our daughter traded the last name she was given at birth for the last name of a wonderful young man she had met and with whom she had fallen in love. The wedding was beautiful; the bride even more so. Although it was small and involved immediate families only, I will treasure the day and the memories made. The song Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman took on a whole new meaning for me on that day…”Someday soon, the clock will strike midnight, and she’ll be gone”.
March, April, and May are a blur as my work projects kicked into full gear. It seemed I spent every waking hour staring at my computer screen scoring various subjects and school grades from various states. Winter held its tight grip through nearly the entire spring. When the huge mound of snow that piled at the corner of our driveway finally did start to melt, our gravel driveway turned into a mud pit. On more than one occasion a car would be stuck in that mud. Spinning tires just created more ruts and I would once again have to put on work boots to try to stomp the ruts down to flat mud. Most attempts were unsuccessful.
June brought the end of my work just as my husband’s picked up with major intensity. From June to mid September, he would travel enough for work to earn Diamond Elite status at Hilton hotels. June also brought an internship for our son. We would move him to Indiana at the beginning of that month to begin a summer internship at a small church in Terre Haute. I cried as we left him there in a strange city where he knew practically no one. He had met the senior pastor a couple times and his girlfriend’s uncle was an elder in the church. By mid summer, though, that girlfriend would become his fiance. A visit to hear him preach in July was all it took for me to know that he was where God wanted him to be. That senior pastor was only seven years or so older than my son and they got along so well. In fact, he will be the pastor performing their wedding this coming spring. The end of summer also brought the release of another one of our chickadees from the nest. Our youngest, after missing more days of school than attending the previous semester due to weather, decided a move closer to campus would be the smart thing to do. She found an apartment and on August 1st, we loaded up all she owned and moved her 40 miles away. Tears once again as I left her to be on her own in a world I know is harsh and full of scary things.
September found us moving that same son from Terre Haute to a different city in Indiana. His internship over, he wanted to be closer to his fiance and her family. September also brought a sharp decline in my health. I found I could no longer walk without the assistance of a cane. Dizziness, extreme fatigue, muscle cramps and some vision issues became friends I didn’t ask for nor invite into my life. The “-ber” months always fly by and this year was no exception. The heat of summer finally over (heat and MS do not go well together) I thought I could finally enjoy some outdoor time. That was not to be the case, though. On most days, I struggled to get out of bed. Puzzles kept me occupied when I wasn’t too dizzy to see the pieces. Depression set in as the stairs in our house became difficult to navigate. My husband once again talked about moving. The brightest spot in my autumn by far was the announcement from our married daughter that we would be grandparents next spring. How excited I was yet saddened at the same time at the possibility of my health interfering with me being the grandparent I had always thought I would be. Time will tell on that, though, as I hope to find a new doctor–one of the good aspects of moving closer to the cities.
Our nest became officially empty November 1st when our oldest found an apartment he liked. While he had talked about moving out and had even looked at a few places, it still came as a surprise when he texted me to tell me he had applied and had been approved for the place. I questioned why I was still living–I couldn’t do simple things like grocery shop or clean like I used to. I felt like a burden to everyone around me. My husband started looking at places to move with more determination. If you go back a few entries, you can read about the moving process and how I feel about it. Regardless, that is what is happening. After seven years in this house and twelve years in this town, we will be packing up and leaving this spring.
What about my earlier reference to the tapestry in the big picture? A tapestry takes time to develop. Whether being executed by a skilled weaver or a novice learning the ropes, nothing that involves a process looks perfect instantaneously. It takes until the product is finished for it to look complete and beautiful. In the case of my life, I am not the weaver. Yes, I make decisions every day that may move me right or left, but ultimately it is God who weaves my steps into the perfect tapestry he designed long before I was born. That said, and I truly believe that, I tend to disagree with the saying of out with the old and in with the new. I may not live in 2014 forever, but 2014 will forever live in me. It made up an entire year of my life. That year held happiness and heartache. Each high and each low caused me to be on the path I am on as 2015 is ushered in with the chime of a clock. I do not see the changing of a calendar page as a clean slate. The baggage from the previous year–both good and bad– goes with me just as baggage taken on a vacation travels with its owner from place to place. The question is, what will I do with the baggage I am carrying? Will I carry it everywhere with me? Allow it to weigh me down as I try to move forward and see the sights of a new place? Or will I deposit it somewhere safe in order to free me of the cumbersome weight of always lugging around heavy bags? If the latter, where is a safe place for me to put the heartaches, memories, tears, smiles, broken friendships, new friendships and all the other things that make up my bags? There is only one safe place that I know of; just as a traveler deposits his suitcase in a hotel room before heading out to see the sights, so too must I deposit the baggage–both good and bad–in the only place I know it will be safe. I must place it with Jesus and trust Him to hold it safely for me as He uses it to continue the tapestry He has started weaving with my days on earth.
I don’t know what 2015 will hold. I try not to think of the difficult prospects like declining health, a daunting move, and an aging parent. I try to focus on the joyous occasions like the wedding of our son to a wonderful young woman and the birth of a grandson. Admittedly, that is not something easy for me to do. But, in reality, what other choice do I have? I do not control my fate. I do not have the power to heal myself or to guarantee my life. Only God holds those powers. I would be much better off in the new year to completely trust Him to do what is good. I struggle with the fact that somehow MS is “good” because it comes from a God who is always good. Maybe that makes me a weak Christian. If you see it that way, all I can ask is that you pray for me to accept what God has deemed “good” for me.
As for me, I’m going to try to keep learning to take one day at a time–to live in that day and to do what is put before me in that time period. And just maybe to not cry quite as much as I did in 2014. One can dream, right?