Posted in Chronic illnesses, Life in general, Motherhood, Tough Choices

What is Missing?

Being a busy working mother, I sometimes wonder what is missing in my life. When I take the opportunity to reflect, I realize that nothing is missing. I have two wonderful and healthy children and I thank God every day for that.  I have a good paying job and we have a roof over our heads. I don’t have perfect health but I am living just fine despite that.  I have a chronic illness and things could be worse but they are not.

Many years ago, I experienced a near death experience.  It is not something I like to talk about it but the fact is, it happened and at that time in my life, I was going through so much that its effect on me was forgotten. I would be lying if I said that I don’t let the craziness of life get in the way of my seeing the big picture.  I have to look for these moments when I feel sorry for myself.  If anything, they are teaching moments.

Like most people these days, I have more bills than I do money.  I want to give my children so much of what I didn’t have. We were seven kids and my parents did the best that they could but we were poor. I know that I have it a lot better than my parents do but sometimes, living paycheck to paycheck doesn’t really cut it. More than anything in the world, I want to take my kids on a vacation but at the same token, my kids are probably not ready for that.  My youngest is 3 and my oldest would probably enjoy it but chasing after a three year old wouldn’t make it a vacation.  In a few years, things might be better off financially and I can start worrying about it then.  Besides a vacation means I spend time with my kids, I can still do that without a vacation. What I want, I already have so I have so much to be grateful for.

Recent events in my life have shown me that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. Losing my brother and having RA and fibro – it is hard to believe that others have it worse than I do.  But it is true, they do. My issues are just obstacles and I have no place to complain when others have lost their jobs and homes. Who I am to say that I have it hard?  Some people have nothing left but their faith in God to guide them and to give them courage and strength to keep going. I have so much more and I so very grateful for what I have.

In the first few months as I grieved my brother, I questioned my faith in God.  For a long time, I wondered what lesson there was from a young man suffering from the most painful kind of cancer and then to have his family’s hopes crushed with little hope of remission. What did he do to deserve that fate? What did we, as his family, do to lose him at such a young age, before he had time to even get married and have a family?  He didn’t get the chances that I had – why him and why not me or someone who had already had those opportunities? Adversity was staring in me the face and all I could do was complain. Who had I become? While I did rise to the occasion, I didn’t accept what I was handed to be. Instead, I choose to fight the inevitable.  All that strength I had conjured up when I made a decision to be strong was my enemy in the end because I feel apart after we lost him. I didn’t realize it right away but I started to feel it when his battle with cancer was nearly over and within a week after his death, its effects really started to show on me. I remember falling to the floor when the doctors told us that his battle was ending – there was nothing left in me to fight. I had fought the battle and lost. I was yet to realize what my fight was all about.

If anything, it occurred to me that this test wasn’t my brother’s – after all he embraced God and we were still here. The test was ours and whether our faith would crumble as a result.  As I grieved my brother, I thought of those less fortunate than us. My brother had his family around him when he was in the hospital and when he took his last breathes.  How many people die alone without this gift? We got to forgive and say goodbye. How many people don’t get that opportunity?  I mourned my brother with so many people by my side and even when everyone went home, I still had my family.  How many get to mourn loved all alone? I felt ashamed of myself for doubting my creator’s gift.  

My brother may be gone but never once did God let me down and above all, he reminded me I wasn’t alone. He gave the opportunity to spend with my brother and that was something I had for so long taken for granted.  I would go weeks without talking to him knowing that he was nearby and I had nothing to worry about.  When he got sick, I was there every evening by his side. I showed how much I loved him and he was able to show me the same. He saw me stand up for him like a big sister should.  I gave him a gift and he gave me the gift by allowing me to be by his side. I was given a gift that would guide me as I mourned that loss. I remember looking around in the surgical ICU and seeing patients who had no visitors. One man even passed away without any loved ones nearby.  Sometimes, it takes seeing a different view to see how blessed you are.  I always hated that I had such a big family but that annoying big family saw us through the hardest time of our lives. The mere fact that I have that and others do not is a tremendous blessing.

So sometimes, I have to stop and ask why myself “what do I have to worry about?” If each of us takes a moment to look at our situation closely, we realize that compared to what others are going through, we have it easy.  And if I am still worried, is there a solution should such a horrible thing happen? Of course there is, there always is.  Taking a look at my current situation and what I have dealt with in the past year, we are okay and we will continue to be. I have weathered many tough storms and while something seems difficult as I am dealing with it, there is always a bigger plan in the end. I remembered rushing to the hospital after work to be with my brother and getting home when my kids were asleep. I was living on few hours of sleep, barely seeing my kids, and going into work every day. I didn’t have to do all these things but I did because I wanted to be by my brother’s side.  It was God that gave me the strength to deal with all those days and maybe my RA and fibro were hiding or was God working behind the scenes, but I don’t recall being in pain despite the lack of sleep and huge amounts of stress.

Don’t wait until something bad happens to show your appreciation for others and for God. Try to make the effort every day to think good thoughts, continue to pray for this, and show those you love them how important they are to you.  After all, our life here on earth is short.  Remind yourself every morning how grateful you are for being alive, for the aches and pains you feel because it means you still feel something, for the annoying teenager who spends all day in his or her her room because at least they are where you know they are okay, and for that annoying husband who doesn’t always take the trash out because at least he is alive and breathing to remind you how annoying he can be. Be grateful, you are not missing anything and neither am I.

Tomorrow, I am going for a second steroid injection in my neck.  I really hate the anesthesia they give you.  They say you are awake for the procedure but I usually come out of the procedure room with no memory of it. The first injection in my neck (and my second time getting an injection), I slept for three hours in the recovery room. I slept like a baby and it was the most peaceful sleep I had gotten in a long.  Go figure. 😀 Anyway, I am still debating whether I should ask them to do the injection in my lower back rather than my neck. The past week it has been my lower back bothering me with that herniated disc putting pressure on my right hip all the way down to my feet.  Needless to say, it is not a pleasant experience.  The chiropractor recommended a nerve study.  I really hope he was joking. Anyway, the injection means I will be off work tomorrow and Friday giving me a four day weekend, enough time to recuperate before the next injection. I cannot believe I wrote “before the next injection,” but sadly, it is true.  There will be other injections and all I want is my life back but for now, I will count my blessings.


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