Saturday, May 31, 2014

Living Someone Else's Dream

It's the first full day of summer, and I need to capture the feeling that it holds for me, before it changes.  It reminds me of when I was pregnant with my first child and everyone kept telling me I wouldn't remember what life before children was like, after I had children.  They were right.  It would never be the same again.

For the first time, a summer stretched out before me seems like a tremendous gift.  I've always looked forward to summers and all that they hold, but saw them less as a gift and something that simply was.  But, things are different now.  I'm standing at the brink of starting a new career and becoming a student again after fifteen years.  I may not have many or even one more non-working summer ahead.  I've also spent two days a week for the last nine weeks in the hospital doing my chaplain internship, mostly in the ER and day surgery, and I'm looking through a new set of glasses.

These glasses reveal the gifts of my life more than ever before.  My family has our health and we have time to spend together.  We get to choose what we want to do next.  Our only limitations are money and a lack of imagination.  Our biggest cross is boredom.  We did not just lose a baby who died in the middle of the night.  We are not bound by a chemotherapy or dialysis schedule.  We do not have to scour labels for gluten, or fear diabetic coma because we had cake and ice cream at a birthday party.  We do not struggle with chronic pain or anxiety.  We are not suffering from homelessness, hunger, loneliness, or addiction.  We don't have gall stones, kidney stones, or infections of any kind.  We aren't burdened by the sadness that comes from watching someone you love fight to live.  We have everything we want, and nothing that we don't want.  Who can say that?

We were at my niece's high school graduation a couple of nights ago, and one of the students said he wanted to join the Marines and have a family when he got out.  I leaned over to my husband and whispered, "You are living someone else's dream."  He half-jokingly said, "That's a big responsibility."  But, I've been thinking about that.  Our whole life is someone else's dream.  Other people dream about when all of their children were young.  When everyone was healthy.  When everyone was alive.  When everyone was happy.  When everyone had time to spend together.  These days of mine are the "good 'ol days" of their's.

Living someone else's dream is a big responsibility.  It is quite possible that other people would die (or give anything) to have what we have.  Our responsibility is to appreciate what we have, and try to stay present.    In the midst of chaos, fighting, ingratitude, and boredom, I am tempted to wish these moments away.  To look forward to another, more peaceful time.  To escape.  Is it just me, or is it funny to think that we may be escaping back to these very moments that we feel so desperate to leave?

We have the privilege of knowing a 93-year-old woman.  We took her to church for a couple of years, but her health is failing, so I've been looking in on her a little more often.  She appreciates my visits tremendously, but gently chastises me about needing to be home with my family.  The last time, she told me that "Families don't last forever" and I need to be spending my time with them.  When she said that, she caught me off-guard; I felt a little shock wave go out from my heart through the rest of my body.  Is it possible my family won't last forever, or at least until I die?  Is it possible that something could happen that would change the way we relate to each other forever?   Yes.  It is possible.  And I am a better woman, wife, sister, daughter, and mother when I force myself to sit in the uncomfortable place where this question lives.  Just for a little while. 

My 93-year-old friend knows this.  She is the last living among her siblings, and many of them were younger than her.  For a long time, she has wondered why the Lord allowed her to survive them all.  She raised six children whom she did not bear.  Her husband's first wife died in a plane accident.  The youngest child was 3-years-old when their Mom died.    Her memories of living in a family like mine are but a distant memory, so she urges me to be present and live family life well, while I still can.

*If we bump into each other this summer, and I seem to have lost the wonder and appreciation of the gifts of time and family, please gently remind me and I'll do the same for you.

Dear God of the Summertime,

Thank you.  Thank you for days upon days on the calendar that are wide open to encounter your love through creatures and creation.  Thank you for the gift of health.  Thank you for the gift of time.  Thank you for the gift of family.  Lord, please be very near to those whose only experience of these gifts is their desire for them.  For us, whom you've blessed beyond measure, give us the grace to give from the abundance you've bestowed.  Help us to live in a way that honors the responsibility we have, while we're living someone else's dream.  Please bless and accompany all who are suffering in body, mind, or spirit.  Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful, Heidi! Thanks so much for sharing! I especially like this excerpt:

    Our responsibility is to appreciate what we have, and try to stay present. In the midst of chaos, fighting, ingratitude, and boredom, I am tempted to wish these moments away. To look forward to another, more peaceful time. To escape. Is it just me, or is it funny to think that we may be escaping back to these very moments that we feel so desperate to leave?