It’s an impossible question! Would it be OK to answer, “I don’t really know”?! I tell myself I should be alright – entering a new season of freedom this week, an amazing turnaround in our family circumstances – so why does it feel wrong simply to say “I’m doing fine, I’m good”?
Of course that is what most people want to hear – and there’s the rub. I am sure most of the polite questions only require a polite answer and not a detailed account of our recent life events and consequent emotions! To answer appropriately I have to be able to discern how interested someone else really is – and I end up ‘looking after’ them instead of them ‘looking after’ me! It’s got to the point where in meeting someone for the first time when I am asked ‘what I do’ or ‘how many children’ I have and ‘what they do,’ I have to stop and calculate whether I am going to mention the fact of Sam’s brain tumour or not… It’s so hard to know what is appropriate with complete strangers! Is it fair to burden them with the knowledge? If it comes out in the flow of conversation it colours everything else about me…
I have had to decide to keep mum about it in order to stay an ordinary member of the group of ladies who go sailing on Rutland Water each week or the amateur choir who meet to ‘Sing for Fun’ on Wednesday mornings in the local village hall. It’s not really natural for me, but I am learning that I don’t always have to bare my soul – as I do on this blog! I know there are some old friends and acquaintances who don’t really talk to us or even meet our eyes anymore because they simply don’t know what to say. I am more than a mother with a son who has a terminal diagnosis: sometimes I just want to be (relatively) normal again, instead of ‘that amazing woman with the huge sadness’ – someone to be pitied or curiously feared. I understand it – they are imagining how they would cope, or more likely wouldn’t cope… But they are not me and they don’t have to!
On the other hand there is the unexpected kindness of strangers, tears in their eyes in real empathy and the love and care of those of you who follow these posts, many individuals I have never met: I wouldn’t be without that. So if a friend really wants to know how I am, what is the honest answer? Yes, actually, come to think of it… how am I?And I find I don’t really know at the moment… me, of all people having trouble with this when I have become so good at self-examination and self-disclosure 😉 As the joke runs in our family, ‘Well that’s enough about me. Now what do you think about me?’
So I’m blogging about it again to try to find the answer… and to try to bring myself to peace. Just like some of the psalms, starting off full of woe and bluster prior to acknowledging the constant faithfulness of God, remembering His promises and reasserting faith and trust in His love. I will hang on in there and choose to believe, ‘casting my anxieties onto Him Who cares for us’. Then despite my wobbly emotions I can defiantly/confidently declare that I am ‘bearing up’! This is such a useful cover-all phrase that Becca made a chart about it: from optimistic Superted to adventuring Bear Grylls via the psychopathic teddy from Toy Story 3, a depressed polar bear, off-balance Yogi and a confused ursine motorcyclist with a handbag there is obviously a whole gamut of emotions that can be covered by this term! 🙂
It’s a week since I moved Sam and Jessa into their place. I have been over there most days since, with things they left behind, an extra frying pan, a plant, needing to read the electricity meter so I can sort out their bills, finding out that the internet connection is still not working… I’ve tried not to be seen, leaving things on the doorstep, even talking to my son through the window, to give him his longed-for space – but a couple of the days they turned up back here anyway.
It’s a transition time – so of course we are nervous. We try to forget that Sam still has his brain tumour, just sitting there quietly in his head! No, you well-meaning people who asked, it has not ‘resolved’ and he doesn’t have the ‘all clear’! Argh – if only it were that easy. Instead we have taken the risk of letting him out of our sight still carrying uncertainty. No wonder I am feeling a little nervous… But we all take that risk all the time, if you think about it. A young friend who recently broke his foot has been rushed into intensive care with clots in his lungs, fighting for his life… no-one saw that coming, but it didn’t stop it happening. The point of our faith is to have steadfast hearts and minds in all circumstances, knowing that whatever happens, good or bad, healing or eternity, we are held in Love. ‘You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You’ Isaiah 26v3
To bring myself to peace is to trust. However, I know it’s pretty normal to be in some sort of emotional shock after the speed and intensity of all that has happened. I am very glad the Lord realised after Menorca that we couldn’t carry on as we were, and those 2 weeks of agreeing on a place and getting them into it couldn’t have been any clearer and smoother – but still all the hard work and adrenaline has a price. On top of that, last weekend we had the added excitement of visits from a freelance journalist and photographer from a national newspaper to whom Sam has sold his story! A few doubts and fears and vulnerability about that too, even though we know it’s a right step.
So aftershocks, aftermath and the wake behind the boat… all a bit bumpy. I am glad we have another week’s respite before the article goes public to give me some time to regain equilibrium! That is a story for another day, so watch this space. And I am glad I have the quiet emptiness of our large, cool house in which to revel and rest in silence and be restored. I am choosing tonight to focus on the truth of the most famous of all David’s songs…
The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
How am I? I am OK.