It is a picture-perfect day – and it is also absolutely quiet in our home.
Everyone is gone.
For the past eight days, there have been many people in and out of the apartment. One daughter, who flew from Chicago to help me post surgery, my gorgeous grandson, with his crinkled nose and interest in all of life, other adult children, friends, visiting nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. Toward the end of the week as my youngest son’s graduation came closer, even more people arrived – my parents and my brother.
Yesterday, graduation day could not have been more beautiful, and we proudly watched our son, first deliver the Valedictory speech, then walk across a stage to shouts and cheers as he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hellenic College.
Recently I remarked to my husband that we are at the stage of life where things are not going to get easier and better. I think for years people think “When this happens, then we will feel settled” or “When I’m in my [insert age] then life will work itself out.” Those sentences can be substituted with a plethora of different scenarios, but the underlying assumption and expectation is the same: Things will get better. Life will get easier.
My epiphany with this recent surgery and the assault on my body and emotions is quite simple: things won’t get easier. Life won’t necessarily get better.
I don’t write this with any sort of pessimism or self-pity. I am profoundly grateful for life’s gifts. I am acutely aware of the shortness of life, of some of life’s tragedies. But now is the time to take each day and recognize that the health and strength I have today will at some point weaken, simply because of the aging process. The activity I can keep up with, the common good I can seek will inevitably become smaller and less significant.
There is, in all of this, a profound sense of loss. That which I have been given, I slowly lose. It is the Old Testament book of Job that bluntly reminds me of this reality:
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20–21).
So this post surgery time comes as a tremendous gift – a gift of healing for the body, a gift of rest for the soul, a time of contemplation of losses.
I read these words from another: “Nothing is a given — everything’s a gift.”
Who am I to complain in losses when what I lost wasn’t mine to begin with? – Ann Voskamp
Everyone is gone. At first, the words feel sad and empty. But the longer I sit in the quiet, the more comfortable I become relaxing and meditating in the gift of now.