The other night I had trouble falling asleep, because I was thinking of all the small but happy things that had made up my day and that were coming up that week. Only happy things. And I remembered one night almost five years ago when I had trouble falling asleep because I’d just been told I had cancer and I was so scared I could hardly breathe. What a wonderful difference five years can make.
Yesterday at lunch, John asked me if I had to work when we got home. I said, “No.” And Michael said, “She used to have to work on Sundays, didn’t she?” Yes I did. Every single Sunday: Me, the computer, a foot pedal, and hours of medical transcription. It felt so good to be reminded that isn’t my Sundays anymore.
I went to church recently with my parents and saw some old friends in the crowd. The last time I remember seeing them, they had just had a miscarriage, their first baby. Now three little children crawled around them. And I was so struck by how forever horrible things seem in the moment and how swiftly life makes things brand new.
When people ask, “How’s all your family?” I am deeply aware of my answer. We’re fine, I say. And healthy, I think. None of us have cancer anymore. Dad is strong and moving forward, five years past an addiction to prescription drugs. Our marriages are solid. None of us have children in the NICU. We all spend far more time making plans and dreaming dreams than in regretting the past or stressing over the present.
I don’t say it to gloat if your days aren’t so fine right now. And I definitely don’t say it without the sad acceptance that life probably has plenty more trouble ahead. I say it to take a moment and be grateful. We’re always very aware when there is trouble. And sometimes we forget to take notice when there’s not.
I also say it to remind us that life keeps moving, and there will be sun and rain. And nothing lasts forever, not even the trouble.
My sister Felicity graduated on Saturday – from college. It’s her second degree really – the first from a two-year bible college, followed by years of awesome motherhood to four small children, and now the culmination of several long, tough years braving motherhood and college classes. And I felt so proud and so happy that I’m still crying. There was nothing in those moments but sheer joy and hope and promise. And in light of all that inevitable trouble and the times when there’s more day-to-day endurance than plans and dreams, while Felicity grinned at us from her seat among a thousand graduates, I was so stinking grateful life has moments like that.