i have been thinking lately about the power of “and” (which now i will refer to as this cute sign “&” since i love it so much)...
i had a shower for merritt this weekend (and when i say “i”, i actually mean that i did nothing but decorate my house and my two oldest friends, mary jane and ellen, did all the really hard stuff. but i got all the credit because it was at my house. i love how that works...)
anyway, the theme of the shower was &. however that theme was in my mind only (a lot of themes are in my mind only), i am sure mary jane, ellen, and even merritt and her mom, molly were totally unaware that there was a theme beside good food, friends, and all the monogrammed linens a gal will ever need. i printed out all my great photos of merritt and her hubby to be (i took their engagement photos, so that made this theme possible) and put big ole &’s on them in a cute font (of course). anyway, as i was putting all those &s on the photos i was thinking about how important the & is in a marriage & in our lives.
after they get married it will be merritt & mike... not two anymore but one grouping together and as great as that is, as we all know, it is hard too. now we can’t think only of ourselves and our needs but of the both of us. the & means good things and the & means difficult things ALL at the same time and the difficult things are good because they are difficult and the good things are only good because they are difficult (is anyone even following this...) without the &, you wouldn’t have the really good stuff, and without the & you wouldn’t make the difficult choices...
that pesky & seems to crop up on me often these day.
because life is hard & God is good.
how can both those be true? & yet they are true. & life does seem harder now. my adrenaline has run out and i am tired. and it seems like the things i could handle last month are way too much for me right now. a friend suggested that God gives us extra grace during really tough times and then He tapers it off and we have to do the hard work getting back to living. i think i could find a lot of support for that theory this week.
i cried more last week than i did the first week. i told God in the shower last night (i was the one in the shower, just to clear up my horrible sentence structure. grammar is not my spiritual gift) that i was done with all this lovely strength and courage and could i just have my mom back for a few days so i could ask her some questions and tell her some things and so she could watch the musical that i wrote for the children at church that maxx is going to have a big part in coming up in march. that was all i wanted.
i didn’t really hear God say “no”, but i pretty much surmised that He was saying that (the water is pretty loud).
while my mom was in the hospital and hospice, i totally felt in the center of God’s will and that i was doing EVERYthing He wanted me to do and being exactly what i was supposed to be. and now i feel lost. i feel like i am not getting anything done right these days. the kids are involved in WAY too many things and i don’t know how to cut those activities down. i am involved in WAY too many things and yet keep on having to say “no” to more and more things that crop up daily, or even hourly in my email box. i can’t figure out the things i need to do and the things to let someone else do and i just keep getting more and more tired and more and more cranky.
but enough whining... His grace is sufficient. i can figure out how to grieve & live. really, i am certain that by doing it minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year that one day i will get really good at it and will be able to help someone else go through this... or i will die trying and be in heaven & that will be really fun (for me at least and remember... it is all about me).
and back to the shower for merritt. i almost canceled the shower, or moved it to another house when the whole things with my mom started. but then i didn’t. and i didn’t know why until i was making those & signs and i started to think about who merritt is and who her mother is, and then i made perfect sense why i was giving a shower for merritt one month after my mom’s stroke...
merritt worked with me at temple israel and she is mary jane’s niece which makes her mom, molly, mary jane’s sister (do you need a diagram or are you okay with the explanation?)...
my first memory of a wedding is molly’s wedding because she let mary jane and i (who were in our early teens) open some of her wedding gifts after school one day. we thought molly was the coolest (at least i thought that, mary jane was her pesky younger sister and may have not thought that way at all).
then molly got to live in england and i was so jealous! and i would always see her at the beach and loved seeing her with her three little children when i was just a newlywed myself. i remember merritt (molly’s oldest and only daughter) as such a cute and personable little girl. she was the age of the elementary children that i was teaching and she was adorable (then and now).
and then one day i got a call from my mom in tallahassee. molly’s youngest child (a preschooler), wilson, had drowned.
i wrote the first sympathy note that i would ever write to mary jane. i don’t think i wrote one to molly. i wouldn’t have known at age 24 what one should say. i don’t know at age 40 what one would say.
i remember sitting on my bed and thinking that if something like that happened to molly, it could happen to me. i remember thinking about never having children because i didn’t think i could stand to lose a child. i still wonder if i could stand it.
i remember thinking over and over, “if it happened to molly, it could happen to me”. i don’t think i had ever thought about death that profoundly before. and maybe not since then, until a month ago. i knew my mom wouldn’t live forever, but i just never thought that it would be now. isn’t that how it always goes?
i also remember seeing molly that next summer and she looked thin but she looked alive. she was caring for her other children. she smiled at her husband. she sang hymns in beach church. she talked to me and asked how i was doing. i remember thinking how in the world i could ever answer that question. i must have said “fine” and i didn’t ask her any questions back. i was so young, she seemed to have lived so much more...
and year by year for almost two decades now, i have watched molly. i watched her have another son who is just a year older than millie. i have seen her take over and organize beach church services. i have taught with her at temple israel, i have seen her teach preschoolers the very same age as the precious son that she sent on to heaven. i have marveled at her spirit, her joy, her strength, her snazzy taste in shoes and purses. i see her strong marriage and i know that the odds were very much against that marriage lasting. and yet it has lasted, and it is good. and it must have been hard.
molly has taught me far more important lessons than she will ever teach in preschool (and you know how important i think preschool lessons are for children). i think of molly so often and she doesn’t even know it. i think of her when i kiss my children good night because she taught me that kissing them tomorrow is not always promised to us. i have watched my children so carefully when they are swimming. i do not take my eyes off of them. and yet i know that my protection is never enough, that God has plans and no plan of His can be thwarted, no matter my diligence.
molly has taught me that life is hard & God is good. molly has taught me that the worst could happen to you & you would have to go on living & loving & even laughing. if molly can survive. if molly can laugh, if molly can live after such a loss, there is hope in this world. there is hope for us all. if it can happen to molly, it can happen to me.
life is hard & God is good. sometimes it is the & that is the most important thing....