Huh. How do I sum up a week like this?
If I could distill it, it might be in the following form: On Wednesday, my best friend from college, the person who would be Ian's godmother if he had one, gave birth to her second child, a baby sister for my friend's firstborn boy. Hooray for a brand new life, so full of promise and hope. P.S., my friend had a VBAC. Hooray for her!
Also on Wednesday, a dad from our homeschool co-op passed away from renal cancer. He was diagnosed in June, had surgery in July, discovered in late August that that ugly monster had spread much faster than they thought, entered hospice care last week, and died a week later. He leaves his sweet wife and their teenaged son, who has Asperger's Syndrome. They were older parents and were devoted to their son, working together to homeschool him. I still remember his first visit to a homeschool support group and the bewilderment he expressed about homeschooling. He became a valued member of our co-op, always with a smile and a kind word to everyone, without partiality or cliquishness. He taught Ian's bowling class and jokingly forbade me to discuss chicken-raising with his wife, who had that gleam in her eye.
So, on one day: New birth and early death. A life begun; a life cut short. A parent's joy; a wife and son's grief. I wonder whether the two souls passed each other at the door. I wondered the same over seven years ago when an elderly woman in our church, a quiet ministering angel, left this world on the day Eliza entered it.
It all makes my own trials and triumphs seem rather muted, if I can just slip on the right glasses. But this week in my own house and soul has seemed similarly up and down. It's felt like a roller coaster ride between hope and discouragement, thankfulness and self-pity, especially when I'm walking by sight and not by faith.
We may berate ourselves for worrying when others have much bigger problems, but the fact is, everyone has their struggles, and the ride we're on seems the most immediate and real to us at the moment. Sure, my sense of success while taking the kids for frozen yogurt after a good first day of "school" is not the elation of a parent holding her healthy newborn. My feeling of inadequacy at not being able to meet one child's craving for artistic instruction and another child's need for just the right amount of structure, whatever that mysterious amount is, is not the grief of a bereft widow. My minor complaints about Caroline's large hospital bills and my relief at still having her here may be tempered at stories like this, so similar but for ending.
"If we walk in the light as He is in the light ..." began the verse I most enjoyed this week -- and friends, it turns out that's a big "IF." Darkness is insidious, as if it wants to crawl inside our very skin sometimes. It helps to remember that walking and being where HE is, is often just the smallest of turns toward the Light.