How do I “Rise up” amidst adversity and call forth the strength within?
The short answer is, I don’t really know.
Trusting in my own wings of spirit? Wings of powerful eagles? Moi? I don’t think so. I often wish someone would just take me by the hand and tell me what to do. Oh, just let me be that trusting child again, my small hand in the large warm hand of my father, believing all will be well.
But as the opening lines of a poem by Robyn Sarah, say:
It is possible that things will not get better
than they are now, or have been known to be.
It is possible that we are past the middle now.
It is possible that we have crossed the great water
without knowing it, and stand now on the other side.
Yes: I think that we have crossed it. Now
we are being given tickets, and they are not
tickets to the show we had been thinking of,
but to a different show, clearly inferior.
Yes, I am clearly in a very different show then the one I thought I had a ticket to when I married Stuart the American and followed him across the ocean to a land far from my own.
It is certainly a different show, and clearly inferior to what either of us had in mind. Stuart was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) less than ten years after we were married. When my son Ittai was seven, he named it “The MS Monster”. It is a shape shifting monster, unpredictable and forever changing.
Every time I thought about the looming monster, I felt that I would not be able to face it.
What am I going to do with two small children if he can’t walk?
Then like a haggler in the market I found myself making countless bargains with God:
“OK, a stick is fine, as long as it doesn’t get worse.”
“Dear God, we’ll be ok with the walker, if you just make the monster stop.”
“I can live with the scooter. He’s driving, working, kids are fine. Just please God don’t let him be in a wheelchair.” That thought loomed terrifying and absolutely impossible to survive.
I thought that a wheelchair would be the end.
God laughs. The monster keeps growing and shifting shapes. The wheelchair is here. But I am still here. When my fears threaten to take over, all I need to do is look at the man I married. He is very much here, Stuart, in a very different show: no longer walking or driving, still working full time with voice recognition software. Permanent tube in the belly, another tube in the throat, no longer able to feed himself or hold a book. Still saying please and thank you at least twice in every sentence.
“How do you do it?” I ask, “you are completely depended on others for everything, you can’t even wipe your nose, and you are not depressed or angry! You’re always so nice to everyone.”
“I don’t know,” he answers, “I guess I just feel loved. I’m grateful to have someone around to wipe my nose.”
Then he smiles: “I’m your talking head”. We laugh our heads off. We laugh back at God.
I don’t know much about strength, but I know Stuart is the wind beneath my wings.
Here is the end of that poem:
Check again: it is our own name on the envelope.
The tickets are to that other show.
It is possible that we will walk out of the darkened hall
without waiting for the last act: people do.
Some people do. But it is probable
that we will stay seated in our narrow seats
all through the tedious denouement
to the unsurprising end—riveted, as it were;
spellbound by our own imperfect lives
because they are lives,
and because they are ours.
“Riveted” by Robyn Sarah from A Day’s Grace © 2003