Happy Trails, Despite the Bumps

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
— Annie Dillard

My friend Deb died yesterday morning from cancer, only two weeks after entering the hospital and finding the tumor. She was an inspiration in the way she lived her life, always giving you her full attention when you spoke with her, always helping you out, and her laugh — I can hear it in my ears right now.

She was also an inspiration in her illness, her strong faith in God and total lack of fear of death. She knew she was going to heaven. She worried more about the people she was leaving behind, especially her husband.

Right now he may be wondering why all around him, people go on with their lives. Don’t they know what’s happened? Because nothing seems the same for the person who has lost a loved one. Even the smallest thing feels awkward and wrong because something, someone, is missing. Like the pot of coffee you made in the morning for the two of you. Or the funny story that you can’t wait to tell because it’s just the sort of thing you know they’ll get a kick out of, but then you remember…

And things feel off like that for a long, long time. Eventually, you may catch yourself slipping into what has become a “new” normal routine. And you are startled. How did that happen? And perhaps you feel guilty.

Divorce, to me, feels worse than death, in that the good memories are not comforting. And if there’s an affair, you wonder whether any of it was real. Everything is tainted. It tears you in ways that only someone who’s been cheated on and dumped can possibly understand.

Even though I’m feeling better now, something was and still is badly broken. It’s like someone robbing your home and vandalizing it. Some people never get over the feeling of violation after a robbery. They may even sell their house because they can’t stand living there anymore.

Some people might think a divorce is like selling the house. But it isn’t, because the marriage is carried inside me. All I can do is pray for healing and that the feeling of violation be replaced with a sense of acceptance and peace. And I’m moving in that direction, little by little.

I have been asked how I can believe in God. I haven’t had a very good answer, just that I do. It’s not that I don’t have my moments of doubt. That there aren’t times I feel abandoned. That there aren’t times that I’m feeling punished. Honestly, there are times when I’m totally furious with God. Yet, in my anger at Him, there has to be the belief in Him.

I’ve asked God to save my marriage. I’ve asked Him why I have to go through this. I ask Him why do people stop loving me and leave me. What’s wrong with me?

The answer to that is that nothing is wrong with me, except that I’ve made mistakes in selecting who I trust with my heart.

I’ve had a number of people praying for me through this time, especially when I was so far down in the pit that I couldn’t even see the top of the hole. And I don’t know what switch was thrown, but I feel good right now. Sad about things. But still good. Hopeful.

And I’m learning not to question the good times — to just live and enjoy it. And the bad times, hopefully I’ll just pause for a moment and think, “Hmmm, now isn’t that interesting. I wonder what I’ll do about this.” and then just keep on living.

I don’t expect life to be easy. And I’ve given up the hope that there’s going to be this “arrival”, where I can finally relax and there won’t be any more BIG bumps in the road or that when I hit a bump, I’m going to be so much wiser that I will handle it perfectly. Expecting a flawlessly smooth ride has only led to disappointment and long periods of blaming myself when bad times hit, or I do not handle things as well as I think I should have.

What I do expect is to find joy in my life no matter where it takes me and what lands in my lap. The point is not to find the person or situation that makes me happy because that kind of happiness isn’t lasting. The point is to go out and love, listen, and put the life I’ve been given to good use.

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  1. I’m so sorry about your friend’s death. Very sad and scary.

    I like your last two paragraphs. Life will never be smooth sailing but we can make the best of what ever we’re given. That’s a very hopeful view after all that you’ve been through.

  2. KB-Thanks. It’s been a big revelation to me those last two paragraphs. A painful lesson but somehow it’s taken a lot of pressure off me to get it all perfectly right or the worst, “once I get this done, then I can relax/be happy/be successful/etc.” Doing what I can with each day and not thinking too far beyond that seems to be working so much better for me. I think you’ve had this principle down for awhile now.

  3. Mary, Mary, Mary….

    First, I am very sorry to hear about your friend. She sounded like a very special person.

    Life is not smooth sailing for any of us. I want to encourage you to let some of this stuff (regarding your marriage) go so you can remove the weight that is on your shoulders. It’s over…sad, but over.
    No matter how much you want to go back to what you had, it does not sound like it is going to happen. You know that. It’s as tho you are torturing yourself over and over. None of us know what is going to happen tomorrow, but we do have some control over our lives. You are the biggest advocate you are going to have for yourself. I KNOW that you are a good and decent person…move on…let life happen.
    Your memories will never be forgotten, but you need to live in the now…please start making more of your kick ass coffee. You are alive…so many people care about you. I wish you were my neighbor!

  4. Lori – Actually I think I am moving on and that was the intended message. The negatives stated are just the lessons I’m learning along the way. When thoughts about the past step in, I picture a big, old stop sign and think about something else because you are right, it’s done and gone and actually, I’m to the point where I can see just how lucky I am to no longer be with my husband because he was causing me more harm than good. He was squelching all the positives about me and about my life. I’m free now to feel good about myself. And you and other people in my life are helping me see that. It’s kind of late in the afternoon, but I’m going to go have some coffee and a cookie too!

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