"Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into." Mahatma Gandhi
"Faith and doubt both are needed - not as antagonists, but working side by side to take us around the unknown curve." Lillian Smith
After my mother had a stroke, I sat beside her hospital bed listening to her spirit. I waited. She would either leave this earth, or stay. It was out of my hands. Within that place, that time in between, waiting to see which way the scales would tip, images ran amok in my head, where past, present and future collided. I found myself projecting into a future where the outcome was unsure, with possible scenarios playing out for each vision. I didn't even know how to feel in that place, where nothing was yet decided. I was happy my mother was still alive, but so sad she was alive where she was. So I surrendered, again and again, into the moment. What would be, would be, and I'd cross that future bridge, whatever the outcome, when I got there. I waited.
It was many weeks later when I finally felt her spirit return. She'd been conscious for awhile, but that wasn't my mother. I don't know who that was. Even one of her friends, while visiting with her in hospice, said to my mother, "I don't know you. Some stranger sits in the place of my friend." Yet finally, one morning, I walked into her room, looked into her eyes, and saw my mother looking back at me. Later, I told her, "This is going to be the hardest thing you've ever done in your life...standing back up. But stand, you will. I'll help you." I didn't know how I was going to do that, for I had no support, no job, issues of my own, but I meant what I said. I'd help.
Sometimes, most times, I think it's a good thing when we don't have a clue what we're stepping into. Love rules the day when it's the motivating factor behind all our decisions in the moment. I certainly had fear, and felt zero confidence in my ability to cope with all that was transpiring, much less in actually coming up with what I'd do about helping my mother stand back up. But I was in it...there...standing knee deep in a situation that demanded courage. I suppose I could've given up, thrown in the towel, and it wasn't like it didn't occur to me, but what does that really look like? I'd still be where I was...may as well deal with it head on. What I didn't know then, was that I would also be learning how to stand back up again. An old way of living and being was being done away with, and I, we, were the determining factor of our own outcome with every step taken, every decision made.
I look back at all of us then - myself, my daughter and her husband, my mother - a small family who literally felt like it was us against the world. So much happened...so much. My mother's stroke worked as a kind of wake up call. It was hard. We faced one hard truth after another. And there isn't a one of us who didn't feel the horrendous bite of poverty. We lost so much, had to give up, and let go of so much. I had moments of despair, when I'd look at my mother, and know, I knew, she was not getting the care she needed. I felt I was failing her. I felt we were all failing her. What made it worse is, by the same token, she also fought it. Like a part of her didn't want to stand back up. What is that thing in us, when we've taken a fall, and feel so debilitated, and the thing we're fighting the most is that thing inside us that says, "I don't want to." The other part eggs us on, saying, "You must." It's either that or die. But the reality is we don't die. Then we're struck with the knowledge that life is a bitch...and then you live. We picture it never ending. I gotta live this way? I didn't sign up for this.
I don't want to.
It could have torn us apart. Shadows rose from all sides, inside us and out. We bitched and moaned and cried and held on to each other. We threatened, bit at each other. We went insane. Yet underlying every bit of it was a love for each other that would win the day. Oh, we didn't know it then, we just kept choosing it, day in and day out, hanging in there with each other, holding each other up, holding up our hopes and dreams, reminding each other of them when one of us slipped into the dark.
We kept walking, sometimes feeling like we were pulling white rabbits out of a hat as we went. Maybe this will work...only to discover it was a dead end. One dead end after another. A magical rabbit that wasn't magical at all. It was just an ordinary rabbit. I'm amazed at us, how we kept going, kept doing, kept trying, forcing our trembling selves to reach way beyond what we thought we were capable of doing, of being. We don't know that until we do it. And sometimes we lose our eyesight in the doing. We lose sight of the fact that we are literally, moment by moment, day by day, walking in faith by the doing. Blind, we think we've lost our way, only to come to the point, like now, that we realize, no, we found our way. Our blindness is healed, our limbs are restored when we keep walking anyway.
He said, again and again, "Your faith has healed you." Your faith, He said. He simply provided the mirror. "You did that. I, of myself, can do nothing...for you, until you walk your faith. Live it."
Yes, I am in awe of us, and oh so proud. We were so deeply impacted, and are still healing, slowly, in many ways, but when talking to my mother, or daughter on the phone, I make sure and point out, "we did it, and are continuing to do it." What was born from a devastating, and desperate place is taking a beautiful shape. We're walking our hope, our dream, one gray step at a time. We all learned to stand back up again, and it was the hardest thing we ever did, and we remain standing...with love winning the day.