Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Time to Weep and and Time to Laugh

My mother once told me many years ago that she never worried about my being happy because I would even laugh in my sleep! I think it is fair to say that I am a pretty happy person. But I don't think I laugh as easily as I once did. My spirit isn't as light as it once was. While I am still joyful about life, I think my happy-factor has been knocked down a few notches. I don't think I've giggled in my sleep for a long time.

Looking back over the past five years, it isn't really hard to see why. This July will mark the five year anniversary of my stepdad John's passing. He, too, died of cancer. Two and a half years ago, my grandmother died at the ripe old age of 95. A month after that, my dog Honey died at the ripe old age of 17. Two years ago, my Dad (who has fought several battles with cancer over many years) called to tell me that his cancer was back and the prognosis was grim. Needless to say, there has just been a whole lot of loss over the past five years. (There has also been a lot of joy, and I don't want it to seem like I'm ignoring all of the good in my life--my marriage to Hubs and the birth of my sister's baby being two of the many very big bright spots along the way!)

The last two years, with my Dad's courageous fight, have been particularly difficult. The hard thing about terminal illness is that you live in a certain tension that never goes away. As much as you want your loved one to live as long as possible, there is this menacing sense that tragedy is looming on the horizon, and it never really goes away. You can ignore it, you can distract yourself from it, but at the end of the day, it is there. And it is absolutely exhausting. 

Even though I am now mourning the loss of my Dad, my grief is accompanied by a sense of relief. For the first time in a long time, when I look out on the horizon of my life, I don't see tragedy looming. It's not that the sun is shining oh so bright. It's more like that time right after a thunderstorm. The last drop has fallen from the sky, and everything is quiet and still.

I don't know if my sleeping giggle will return. As the Teacher in Ecclesiastes so wisely wrote:

"There is a time for everything, 
and a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be be born and a time to die...
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance...."

I have come through a season of dying and death, and now now I am in a season of mourning and weeping. While I am in no hurry to rush through the grieving process, it's comforting to know that there will be a change in the weather.


Sharon said...

As we get older,we collect more experience I think and I think we do laugh less after so much life happens to us but I think we laugh deeper. And I imagine your giggle will never leave you.It's part of who God made you to be.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I know just what you mean about that sense of looming tragedy. I've been feeling that since February, though of course we hoped my mom would recover and be OK. But that feeling of stress, of something hiding under the surface, waiting to get us...that was horrid.

Do you remember those first days after September 11, how everyone kind of walked around in a fog, and people cried so easily and seemed somewhat shattered? That's how I feel now, except I'm in that fog alone. Not that others don't care for me, or didn't care for my mother, but it's not that same communal shattered feeling. And it's kind of strange.

StephanieG said...

Starshine, I linked to your blog from Lincee's Ihategreenbeans, and I just wanted to let you know how much your story has touched me. I lost my dad to cancer two years ago, and his decline was just devasating to watch. I was not particularly close to him, but losing him has affected me in ways that I was just not prepared for. We all know deep in our souls that someday we will lose those we love, but for me, it was absolutely unimaginable that he was really gone forever.

Your love and respect for your stepfather shine through in every word that you write about him, and I am so glad that you were blessed and loved by these two men.

I have to hope that the faith that we've been taught and have held so dear will really pay off for us and someday we will all be together again with the ones we've loved and lost.

I hope that the happy memories you have of your father will comfort you during the sad days ahead.

Clio said...

This is going to seem completely off topic, but I had a dream about you last night and I wanted to share it with you. I was going to e-mail you I can't seem to find an e-mail on your blog, so it gets to be public.

Most of the dream was bad (in my case) but somewhere along the way I ran into you and you were pregnant, and you were so glowing and happy and peaceful that I woke up smiling despite the icky first part of the dream.

C said...

Wow! This post hit very close to home, Starshine! In the past few years, I too have lost people very dear to me to cancer (ovarian, prostate, leukemia, etc). At the same time, there have been many happy moments in my life. My mother-in-law reminded me the other day to be thankful to God for all the blessings he has given us. Sometimes it's easy to get side tracked by all the sad things and hardships, but like my father always tells me, "Life is a cycle of many things."

You have a wonderful and refreshing outlook on life. I think it's great of you to recognize that you don't need to try to hurry to rush through the grieving process :)

Thinking of you XO

josey said...

i love what sharon said--my thoughts exactly. i, too, have felt my "spark" feel a bit extinguished in the last several years from all sorts of losses. but fortunately, God has just been hammering away at me on the anvil, molding me in the midst of the "fire." (yes, i love Max Lucado's first book!!) i didnt believe that until just recently...it's so hard to see beyond one's circumstances and have faith...but i can see that you are being guided and comforted, and are growing so much. it is beautiful!

i am predicting a touch of sunshine (or...starshine?) peeking through the clouds soon! :) hang in there, dear sweet smiling friend!

and as always, thank you so much for sharing this journey with us. :)