Thursday, March 17, 2011

Trust Life

"You do not choose your family; they are God's gift to you, and you to them" --Desmond Tutu

I've always had trouble doing that, trusting life. Trusting it to bring me to the places I'm meant to go, to curve down the unforgiving streets past the barking, aggressive dogs of life, to a shady grove, a front porch, a safe haven.

Life right now seems to demand patience and reticence, two qualities I'm afraid I have to admit I greatly lack. The temptation to bulldoze thoughts and feelings reminds me to do the opposite--to sit with them and ponder them. The real them. Why they are here. The resentments, the judgments, the mis-understood, the frustrations, the uncertainties. I try to focus on my own imperfections; I am an imperfect, stumbling soul, rambling along in this blog.

Alot of my time in recent weeks has been spent in the car, driving the hour-plus drive to a rural/suburban area, far off the beaten track of this city-girl. Destination: a mid-size hospital in the Durham region, where my father has spent the last few weeks gaining enough strength against a barbaric disease to see himself home, to allow him some additional comfort, peace, and his own safe haven, as he tries to fit his life into the new framework of his disease.

Each small triumph arrives holding the hand of a bigger challenge, fateful twins, their linked hands creating obstacles that feel mountainous.
Every piece of news arrives distorted, as though the radio signal is clogged with static, and the channel can't be changed. I try to find the wiggle-room, the silver-lining, but really all I find are more outlets for my terror--terror for my father's deteriorating condition, for the future of my family, for myself--getting older.
Is this what getting older means?
An ailing 'last quarter', limping along behind the pack, waiting to be taken down by the nearest wolf?

It's not an end I like to contemplate.

In the hospital waiting room yesterday my mother had a weak moment. I responded in my own weak way, impatient, unsympathetic, and it spiralled from there. I reminded myself, in this room surrounded by my extended family members, why I never wanted to have children. My family, this little nucleus, this little boat, drifting on bobbing waters, never seemed to have the serenity I wanted, no, needed, to nourish my often-anxious-soul. There was a constant feeling (my own) of having no net. But when I reflected on my mother's admitted fears and my own reaction to them, I realized all of us have had to fit our lives into this new framework, whether or not we want to.
We don't have a choice.

An recent email from my wise friend D reminded me of something I often forget, something that has been evidenced, not just in recent weeks, but for many years. I DO come from a close family. Yes, we argue, we judge, we tear down, we build back up, we breathe impatience on each other like the fire from a dragon, but we also protect, would go to the ends of the earth for, live in close proximity to, spend every single dysfunctional holiday together, and simply love each other, in all our splendid imperfections, with all our narcisscism, our faults, and our clutched-to-our-chests-spill-over-personalities, valuing each family member for their own unique contribution to this mess of a life.

This is where trusting life comes into it all. And for this, I must turn the compass needle to sheer gratitude, away from sheer terror.

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