Perspective. Everything is in a state of flux right now and people are worried about school closings, the stock market free-fall, event cancellations, social distancing, travel bans…and yes, toilet paper. As I write this I am sitting by my mother’s bedside. We placed her in hospice care two days ago, and now my most important concern is spending as much time as I can with her before she crosses to the next realm.
My brother-in-law died suddenly and unexpectedly a week ago. Our son has been knee-deep in the job search, which will basically come to a halt during this worldwide crisis, and he has no health insurance. Our daughter will be giving birth to our first grandchild in the next couple of weeks while she and our son-in-law scramble to continue to bring in income as professional dancers.
These events have been just the tip of the iceberg for my family – the past 11 months have brought unimaginable pain. And yet, if I can keep everything in proper perspective and still feel immense gratitude, I know you can do the same.
My mom has been fighting an uphill health battle for the past nine months. She has lived her entire life fighting – childhood poverty, an abusive marriage to an alcoholic (my father), two more unfulfilling marriages, a heart attack and three heart surgeries, followed by six months on hemodialysis and a dramatic spiraling down of her health. As her only child I am grateful for so many things, even as I sit watching her take her final journey. She and I have always been close, and she loves me unconditionally despite my occasional lapses in kindness toward her. For many years it was just the two of us against the world.
I am grateful that she was able to make her own decisions about how she wants the end of her life to go and that I don’t have to make them for her. I’m grateful for hospice nurses, who are a special kind of angels on earth. And I am so very thankful that her death will happen in the “natural order” and she won’t have to watch her child, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren go before her.
My husband and I are so lucky to have the families we do. His family is grieving the loss of their brother/father together, and I’m grateful that our nephew and his fiancee recently moved closer to some of the rest of us. And I am so lucky to have a husband who, while grieving, is still walking the dog, buying the groceries, cooking, etc. (which he always does anyway) so that I can be with my mother.
My heart is so happy knowing that our daughter and son both have amazing partners to love, support, and encourage them during this chaotic time. We couldn’t ask for more perfect young people to be by their sides right now. And soon we will welcome a beautiful new baby boy into the world…a sure sign that there is always hope.
My gratitude list is long. We will all make it through these unsettling times because, historically, we always have. Personally, we each face our own unique dark periods and we always get to the other side, where there is light once again.