Damp, gray tree trunks stood out in stark contrast to the brown, winter-dead lawn. The bleakness of the cloudless spring day made me sigh wearily. Rolling to a stop at the end of the driveway, I looked both ways to check for cars before pulling out onto the road, thinking, “Early spring is depressing. Everything bad that has ever happened to me…has happened at this time of the year!”
Recurrent clinical depression had plagued my early years. Flare-ups happened more often in the spring. Doing a mental check-up, I questioned, “Is this just a down day, or the start of my going off track?” Shaking my head, I thought about Christy, my first baby who was born in early February and died two months later. My Mom and Dad both died in the springtime. Then nine years ago my husband Arnie died unexpectedly on the anniversary of Christy’s death. He was only 56 years old.
Last April my 42 year-old son-in-law died when a deer crashed through the windshield of his van as he was driving my daughter to the hospital to have their eighth child. Never expecting to share widowhood experiences with my daughter so early in her life, I’m still reeling from the randomness of this horrible loss. Niki and Mike’s children are all two years apart, newborn to age fifteen. At least when Arnie died, our children were grown and on their own.
My self pity made me feel ashamed. It isn’t true that only bad things have happened to me at this time of the year. Arnie and I were married in April just after we turned 19 years of age. Years later my children were born, Tammie in late February and Niki in mid-March. These were the BEST things that ever happened in my life.
Remembering a picture that I’d seen recently in Facebook made me chuckle grimly. It was Jim Caviezel and Mel Gibson on The Passion of the Christ movie set. Jim appears as Jesus did after being scourged and crowned with thorns…extremely bloody from having been so very badly abused and tortured. They are sitting side-by side on director chairs. Mel, looking clean, neat and comfortable is telling Jim something. Jim is calmly listening with his attention directed entirely on Mel. The caption of the picture was, “That moment when you are telling Jesus what a hard life you are having.”
I chuckled again. How could anyone complain of having a hard life when confronted with the brutal way Jesus had been treated; He who is good, holy and pure? Who then, am I to feel sorry for myself? My life isn’t that bad. I have never been abused, homeless or hated by my community. I’m not deeply in debt. I have never had an unhappy marriage, children who despise me or a history of an acrimonious divorce.
I am blessed with many happy memories of times spent with Arnie and Mike, Mom and Dad, the love that I feel for them and from them. On that bleak, dreary spring morning as I drove into town, a sense of being loved and cherished pierced my soul. It was as if a shaft of warm sunlight entered to ease the longing that I feel for my late husband and temper the ache which I feel for my daughter as she struggles to raise the children in Mike’s absence.
My feeling of being loved isn’t a manic bi-polar swing. I still see the bleak edges of the world that I live in. I still feel the ache of loss, the regret of being unable to fix my youngest daughter’s handicaps, or my brothers’ disabilities caused by age and illness. What has changed is a sense of purpose and hope that everything will work out…perhaps not the way I would want, but in the way it needs to be.
I arrived at my destination knowing that I am blessed, the Lord cherishes me, that my life and struggles matter. They make a difference.