Hanging on for Dear Life
Four good days with Bethany has a special way of clearing the fog of depression. Having her smile and laugh and rip her diapers out of joy rather than frustration is, well, a liberating feeling. You feel your heart get lighter, your responses, less caustic and your outlook far more appealing to those around you.
She loved the fast ride on the jetski – that in fact, seemed to make all the difference in her attitude and broke the cycle of sadness that gave me the four days, so you pack that little secret weapon away in your emotional duffle bag for the next time she has a meltdown. “”Wanna go for a ride on the jetski”? I ask in my imagination, waiting for the characteristic aahhyyah! Accompanied by the frantic up-and-down headshake. In your heart you know it’ll be the thing that changes her anger to joy, just like her joy turned your sorrow to celebration, and your shadows to sunshine.
That’s why it hurts so much when other sorrow, sorrow from the day-to-day life around you, creeps back into your worldview like cold water around your warm, dry socks. A local deranged man goes on a killing spree, taking the lives of seven plus one. A friend dies of a heart attack, leaving a young family. The news gives me highlights from the baseball game, not of the score but of a father, joyously reaching for a foul ball and then falling to his death while his 4 year old son watches.
I desperately try to reconcile this in my mind, calming myself in the hope that those aren’t my issues, they’re not my problems – in fact, my problem is on a short hiatus. My dear friend’s prayers were answered and the abuse has diminished. I didn’t pray for complete healing with Bethany, I know better than to allow myself that much rope..in fact that kind offending jerk-on-the-line is what usually kills a falling mountain climber, not the rocks below. I prayed for a brief reprise and was graciously granted four days of relative peace. To emotionally open myself up to compete healing is simply too much to bear, like the pain of life around me.
I soothe my heart with the memory of that mop of black hair on a head that’s hopelessly stuffed down into a life vest, far too big and cinched far too tight. That hair - totally obscuring my view as she sits ahead of me on the machine, screaming with joy at every wave we ram. Those little hands of hers, carefully holding my hands on the handlebars as if she were commanding my reach. Her refusal to abandon ship at the end of our turn..I count it as pure joy.
Perhaps I can learn to deal with tragedy by simply dealing with things on smaller scales like Bethany does. To place my hands on the hands of my Lord as we fly along on the jetski, as if I were commanding his reach. I need to learn to refuse to abandon ship, even at the end of my turn, just as Bethany did. And should I be forced ashore, like her, I need to try crawling in the next nearest boat anticipating and expecting an equally thrilling and joyous ride.