December 1st is a day of days in my life. Two years ago today our lives changed forever. By 6 am – the time I am writing this – we were already in the emergency room at our local hospital, assessing the extent of Ron’s stroke, contemplating where to go next. Two years later, the odyssey continues. Though Ron has moved on, I am still trying to figure out where to go next.
I know, when friends ask me how I am , I respond, “I am fine.” And I am. But I’m also not. “Fine” as I once knew it and “fine” as I am now are not equivalent – like the difference between walking on two legs, then walking with a brace. I have much to be thankful for and I am making life work, but I require extra support to keep going. And that’s okay. Fortunately for me, I have loving family and friends who brace me up. I have a faith and a prayer life that lift me when I falter. Still, today stings.
I had thought to spend this dreadful anniversary getting my left shoulder repaired. Since illness forced postponement of my surgery, I don’t have the luxury of anesthesia and pain killers to dull the ache of this day. Instead I am unpacking Christmas – for the first time in two years.
I had ordered a box of celebration helps – funny hats, crafts, etc., that I hadn’t yet opened by December 1st in 2013. Our planned theme was to celebrate the arts with our charitable giving that year, and to throw a “Karaoke Kristmas” party complete with singing and dancing. I couldn’t remember what party stuff I had ordered, so opening the box this year brought one surprise after another. For some reason I can’t now recall, I had ordered among the Santa hats and tambourine kits a pillow with a saying, “When you stumble, make it part of the dance.”
How unaware I was at the time of the extent to which I would be living those words. It feels to me that my life has been a stumbling effort to dance despite disaster for the past two years.
Wouldn’t it be nice if life never caused us to stumble? Or so we think. But today I must acknowledge the heartache, the loss, the longing for what once was, and the frustration with change that are a part of grief. I must own our story. And stumble under its weight. I can’t change the steps, but I can make them part of the dance.