In trying times, we learn so much. We learn about ourselves, how we operate, what we can tolerate, what it takes to reach our breaking point and who we lash out at when reaching that point. We learn who our friends and family are, who runs away from challenges and who accepts them with arms open wide.
This is day 102 that Mom has been too sick to be at home. She had at least 10 visitors today. Some were the same people who come multiple times every week (and have since everything began). Some are people who drop by every month or so and keep in touch via the blog, email and cards. But every single one of them are the people who don't run away. Mom's yoga instructor checks in on a regular basis, always letting us know we're in her healing thoughts. Co-workers of hers and Dads (and even mine) continue to read the blog and send cards and meals; her elementary school friends email; one of her sorority sisters sends me the most beautiful stories of hope and love, keeping my cynical inner voice at bay during horrible times. I don't quite know which way it works: has my mother managed to collect a community of fearless, devoted people? Or does she bring out the braveness in them?
Gary and I talk a lot about what it means to be a family now. We know it doesn't mean sharing a name...so what does it mean? How do we create our own new family that's a reflection and an extension of the families that we were blessed to be born into? Or, what we really wonder, could we ever be loved and supported even a fraction as much as my parents are? What does that take?
I know that I often digress into weird hippie-speak about the seasons and karma. But, truly, this taking care of and being taken care of is really just energy exchange. Somehow, Mom has managed to receive the energetic love of seemingly everyone she has ever met and they all show up for her in countless ways. She is never alone. So, either she's racking up one heck of a karmic debt, or it's all already owed to her (I suspect the latter).
I am a control freak by nature. I have many rules and parameters and systems that get me through each day. I have learned so much in the last 102 days about control, mostly that I really don't have any. I have learned that plans don't mean much, that there's never a good time for some things and never a bad time for others. I have learned to practice patience. I have learned that screaming at doctors can't make them cure your loved one and that the screaming energy is far more effective if channeled into a healing massage for your loved one. I have learned that anger makes your stomach hurt and that fighting to get control of an uncontrollable situation is like trying to hold a fistful of sand in the ocean. The tide pulls it through your fingers and you end up empty handed every time.
I don't know where this story will take me. I can't know where it will take my family. Hearts will break, bank accounts will dwindle, plans will be broken and reassigned. But I do know that after 102 days, our friends and family are in it for the long haul. They'll still be by Mom's side at day 202 if necessary. And the best thing about that is that Mom knows it, too, and is able to trust it 100 percent.