May has been a month of testing – testing patience, sanity, faith, belief, and sometimes reality. I can’t remember the last time I had a really good night’s sleep. It’s getting better. Slowly.
Grief is a weird animal. It pops up at the most unexpected times and in the most unexpected ways. When we returned to Michigan, the pain of losing Piper returned with a vengeance. I think it was because we spent a lot of time wandering through the campground and surrounding woods. At the end of April, we traveled to Wisconsin for a celebration of my uncle’s life. It was a very pleasant time, and at the same time, very stressful. Watching my Mom and her sibs – it was hard. The location – Spooner – was bittersweet. We’ve made several trips there – and they are now always for one reason. Someone else has died. That realization is incredibly sad, as is the realization that the only time the siblings get together is to celebrate a life after it is over. It would be such a delight to get together and celebrate life for the living without having to mourn as well.
May is also the time we start to catch up on our Michigan appointments and commitments. Busy time trying to coordinate schedules, sometimes so busy that we forget to schedule in a little down time for relaxation.
Two weeks ago (feels like yesterday), we were treated to the unforgettable experience of identity theft and monetary loss. Somewhere out there, there is a person pretending to be me – apparently with photo identification to prove it. What little sense of sanity and concentration just went out the window. Fortunately, after two weeks of non-stop recovery efforts on our own, we seem to be holding our own. With the overshadowing knowledge that we are not done, and probably won’t be for quite a while. By the time we were assigned a recovery “specialist”, she was able to tell me I had taken care of just about everything correctly.
In a really weird coincidence, shortly after the initial theft, my wallet that I lost 3 years ago was found in the car I had been in when I realized it was missing. Everything was intact. For 3 years, I had been mad at myself for being so careless with an item that carried not only a fair amount of cash, but credit cards, ID cards, and the like. What an amazing realization that I could forgive myself – because I was sure that I was the reason for the ID theft. Three years of feeling stupid, careless, and putting us at risk. The knowledge that I was not responsible for providing information to someone to take my identity.
Last week, issues at church. By that point, I was tired of being the nice person and being jerked around. Finally screwed up the courage to say goodbye. I didn’t expect it to feel so good. Then I said “no” to a demand for my time on another front – whoa – not even a little feeling of guilt!
During all of this, God’s grace has been shining so brightly. I would have to be comatose not to see his hand at work. Yes, it has been really challenging – but the evidence of his presence with me through it all is there like a neon sign. They days that we were so busy with recovery efforts were the days that I didn’t receive any work. The times that seemed so dark were brightened by noticing the lovely spring flowers that were blooming. The times were it felt like my head was going to explode from trying to process everything and I was able to find time to play in the dirt and plant things, or tend to my succulent garden.
The biggest GRACE LESSON, though, has been through a little tabby cat with intense green eyes. God sent Iris. Apparently, Iris was surrendered when her owner had to go into a skilled care facility. She immediately greeted us at the shelter – kind of like she chose us then. We’ve never had a cat before, and now I’m not sure why. There is no comparing her to Piper, no competition for memory or living space.
Iris has taught me about cat naps. Those times when she makes herself comfortable on my lap – and nothing on earth or in heaven will induce me to disturb her napping. Actually, I find myself dozing off. She is very sensitive to my being upset – her timing is impeccable. She will nestle in my lap, place her paws on my chest, and gently knead with her front paws and purr. She stares into my eyes for a bit – as if to say “give it to me, and take my peace”. Then we both close our eyes and doze. It’s not for long, just the perfect amount of time and energy exchange.
This is not to say that I don’t receive love and support from my family – I do. But it’s different, and it’s delightful.
My GRACE LESSONS have been many:
- He will always be there – no matter how bad it gets. That is His promise -not to make the way smooth without problem, but to be at our side through it.
- Trust His timing – ours is tenuous at best.
- There really is reason and season for everything.
- Play in the dirt, grow green things. It’s good for your soul.
- Don’t wait until you’re pushed to your limits. Set your limits and honor them. Expect people to honor them as well.
- Remove toxic people and situations from your life. You’re worth more than that.
- Cherish the people in your life that radiate positivity. The ones that tell you how blessed they are, and about the good in other people. Celebrate the good.
- Avoid people who espouse the victim mentality. The ones who never take responsibility for their life and blame others.
- Find yourself a furry therapist, let them teach you about rest and recovery. How to slow down and find joy in the moment.
My favorite grace lesson: God sent Iris!