Life has been tumultuous for me in the last couple of months. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here on the blog before or not (sorry if I have!), but there were at least ten days a couple of weeks ago where we had a family disaster or stressful event for every single day. There was even a family death, though she was old, so it was relatively expected (although her condition deteriorated much faster than anticipated after hospitalisation). So suffice to say I have been feeling pressurised.
It’s easy, when you’re under so much stress, to feel completely trapped. And that itself compounds the stress, because if you have to live like this forever, if this is the best it gets, the hell, how on earth are you going to cope?
But it’s easy – too easy – for the opposite mindset to lodge, as well. I read this article just now, which I’ll link you to in a second, that said this:
Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
I cried. Now, granted, it doesn’t take much me cry – my emotions live close to the surface, happiness makes me cry as well as sadness, and I find cause for genuine sadness in most newscasts, which is why I get my news on Twitter where I can be pickier about what I let touch me – but this line made me shed a tear because it’s so, so apt.
Not last weekend but the one before we packed into the car and went on a camp. It was a Camporee, actually, which I think is something Scouts do, and at the very least is something that Pathfinders, our church’s equivalent of Scouts, does. We had a blast. My husband is involved at a high administration level, so he was busy and preoccupied, and Small Boy had only been camping for the first time the weekend before, and we were right near a small but completely unfenced river, so it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but more than anything it reminded me of how much I miss exactly what the line says: proper laughter and abject silliness. And of course, I am a total show-off and flirt when I think I can get away with it without offending anyone, so you know.
I miss that. I miss that kind of lifestyle, that kind of living-with-abandon, and so when I read this article tonight, written by a palliative care nurse about the top five regrets people have as they are dying, it really hit home.
Change is coming in my life; you don’t even have to know me that well to see it. And change usually makes me scared, and stressed, and uncertain. But this time, it’s about making decisions that will enable me to not have those regrets when it’s my turn to die, when all I am is dispelled and left to return to dust. I finally, finally know what I want from life, and I have taken the words of Maggie Stiefvater to heart, and I will not be afraid. No more.
Sometimes, when it feels like you are drowning, all you really have to do is stand up. In our panic the ground can feel further away than it is, but we all have something, some core deep down inside, that one thing that we are absolutely certain of. Use it. Stand on it. Rest there when the water of life is up to your neck and you think you’re going under. Stand on that one thing that you know down to the very last fibre of your being, and it will hold you.
I will not be afraid. I will laugh, and I will stand.
Stand with me. I’m honoured to have you by my side.