Life Lessons in Loss…

I find a distinct peacefulness whenever I am near the water. Oceans, lakes, rivers or streams provide me with a respite that is much different from the mountains, flatlands or the desert. Despite the beauty of the earth, I am ultimately drawn to bodies of water. For many years I have lived in the desert or the flatlands. With my travels significantly curtailed, I’ve not enjoyed the sound of waves or the feel of mist on my skin from ocean breezes. This might explain why I was overcome with emotion while crossing a bridge in Annapolis, Maryland on my recent visit. It almost seemed as if I’d been ushered into paradise, but my friends and I were simply on our way to an early dinner. The view of the water was breathtaking. IMG_0582 2Dining al fresco in the company of cherished friends while the waves played in the background was exactly what I needed. Scrumptious food, stimulating conversation and comfort of friendship provided me with the safe environment I needed to explore my frazzled emotions.

It had been a difficult summer. The loss of five loved ones in my life circle in a two month period threatened the stability of my inner peace. I was trying to hold it together for everyone that might need encouragement…including me. Although none of the people that had passed away were from my immediate family, they were all intricately woven into the relational threads of my life. Every one of them had influenced me. My heart was broken for their family members. I felt a bit of their pain. Losing them caused me to question how would, or could I prepare myself for the loss of my immediate family members. Did I dare grieve in advance for the reality of the losses that I would suffer? I was fairly resolute about the inevitability of death but I wasn’t as comfortable with how I was treating certain aspects of my life.

The events of those two months prompted me to do some serious examinations of how I care for my personal relationships. Living life can often allow you to neglect the people who aren’t in your daily, weekly, monthly space. I’d been guilty of that. The first person I lost was a friend since first grade. We hadn’t spoken in years but when my sister informed me of my friend’s diagnosis, I got her phone number and reached out to her. I was blessed to reconnect with her. We shared great memories, laughs, prayers and tears in the following months. Our text messages and conversations were both a comfort and wake-up call to me. I was comforted by the knowledge that in her final days she told her children that she was thrilled that we were able to renew our friendship. This was my wake-up call to the fact that life is fragile and tomorrow is not promised. The subsequent deaths reinforced an uncomfortable sense of urgency to pay greater attention to the care of my relationships.

While driving over the Old South River bridge in route to Mike’s Crab House for an early dinner, the beauty of the water and the promise of delicious food was enhanced by the company of two girlfriends I hadn’t seen in nearly ten years. My tears were an outward expression of gratitude for the gift of being in my favorite environment with two of my favorite people. In suffering loss I’d been allowed another chance at becoming a more present friend. My peace was being restored as I began paying closer attention to my relationships.

as my world was spinning…

For the past nine days I have battled Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or simply Vertigo. This condition is medically described as dizziness due to debris collected in the inner ear; “ear rocks” or small crystals of calcium that are unable to migrate into the ear’s canal system. That is the brief medical definition.

My definition is more like debilitating dizziness accompanied by extreme nausea, a total inability to perform my normal, basic life tasks. My steps were unsteady when I was able to walk and my vision was blurred. In other words no fun at all. Living life in this state has been challenging for me. I have places to go, people to see, etc, etc. And yet simply living in this altered state afforded me some time to reflect. I spent time, appreciating my life and my overall good health. I don’t know about you but when illness invades my life sending me to bed, I begin to focus on life and it’s increasingly fragile reality. Nothing like being flat on your back, or in my case curled up on my side, to make you realize that our health is something to be cherished and our time on earth is but “a vapor.”

So while the world turned around me and I was unable to participate, I made a few personal resolutions:

  • I won’t waste my time
  • I will smile more, laugh more and appreciate exactly where I am in my life journey
  • I will be kind to people (even the ones who get on my nerves)
  • I will tell my friends and family that they are loved and valued more often
  • I will continue to pursue every one of my dreams (even the ones that terrify me)
  • I will thank God with more fervency than ever before, for His faithfulness to me
  • I will be grateful for every moment of every day (life is to be lived to the fullest)

Yesterday much to the dismay of my family members who were concerned for me driving, I was able to maneuver to my church and lead the final session of our intense six-week Bible Study. I had decided that only a return visit to the ER would keep me away. There has been an amazing group of women who have totally committed to the study or merely dropped in for some refreshing for their souls. In six short weeks, deep healing occurred as layers of buried despair were peeled away. We collectively decided to pursue our destinies with even greater passion as we left the pain of our past behind. We laughed, we cried, we encouraged and strengthened one another as we dug deeper wells of worship. We concluded that we would not allow anything to separate us from the perfect love of God. The women emerged from our time together with their peace restored and their voices primed to share a message of hope on any occasion with any woman who has a thirsty soul.

Today I’m doing some more reflecting. This time marveling on how the peace of God was able to steady me when my world was spinning out of control, all around me. Physically the vertigo happened because my brain, my eyes, as well as my ears were not functioning together perfectly. Our balance depends on all of these body parts being in sync. Who knew…

I wonder how many women are functioning in their everyday lives, while their spirits are in a state of vertigo? Are your a bit out of balance? Are your steps unsteady? Is your vision blurred? You might want to check and see if your spirit, soul and body are all in sync. Take some time to do an emotional and spiritual check-up. The great life that is your destiny depends on it.