I will always remember 2009 as the year of peaks and valleys. Elation and then deflation. In March of 2009 my maternal grandmother, Nana passed away after suffering from Alzheimers for many years. It was so sad but I felt that she had been released from the prison that her own body had become. I had missed her for a long time and had already made peace with her being 'gone'.
One day in June I was in the laundry room, sorting socks, when the phone rang. It was my eldest sister. "Cathy, I'm so sorry...I have to tell you something....Mom died this morning. Words are so powerful. Before that phone call it was business as usual. My mom had already passed but the words had not been spoken and my life had not been altered. And then the phone rang. It was so surreal. I was not ready. I will never be ready. And just like that, my mother was gone, too.
During that time I was living with an almost unbearable pain in my stomach. I had been to the GI specialist and had been diagnosed with gallstones. Not fun. I had been praying for healing and for wisdom about what to do in this situation. Of course, surgery was recommended but I had heard from others that it might not even solve my problem and I was looking for a way to avoid it, chicken that I am. I recall feeling very raw and vulnerable at this time. I told a friend recently that I felt very small in this big, big world without my mom and dad. Not that they were such great and supportive parents...they weren't. Sorry, but they weren't. I'm pretty sure if you could ask them they would agree completely. They divorced when I was 2 years old and I can only remember a handful of times when we were all in the same room together. Sad, but true. Oh, I've wandered off topic, haven't? I do that sometimes. You'll get used to it!!
So it's the end of June, my mom has just passed away, and I am struggling with gallstones. Oh, and we are about to take a family vacation to Maine. I decided to buck up and go to Maine and then have surgery when we got back home. I have to throw one more thing into the mix, here. I have been a member of the Lakewood Church Choir for over 2 years now. A week after Mom's passing they held auditions for Voices of Lakewood which is a group of singers that helps to lead worship during church services. I had been feeling a tug in my spirit that I should audition but with everything that was going on I thought maybe I should put it off. I prayed very fervently and very often and felt that my mom would have wanted me to go for it and that the time was right. So I did and found out a few months later that I was selected for the worship team, praise God.
We went on our vacation to Maine and I was determined not to be the proverbial 'wet blanket'. I put a smile on my face and soldiered on through the gallbladder pain and the pain in my spirit. And I had genuine fun with my family. Until July 6th. That's the day I checked my messages and heard the news my Aunt Elayne had passed away after a valiant battle against breast cancer on the 4th of July. Ugh! Talk about feeling hard pressed on every side...I prayed so much in those days just for strength. Supernatural strength. My reserves were all used up. And just like that, my aunt was gone, too.
After returning from Maine, I know the Lord really lifted me up. I felt His hand firmly guiding me through the process of scheduling the surgery. On a Thursday I was in excruciating pain and was laying in the bed being miserable. The Dr's office said the surgeon wouldn't be available to see me until Monday. As I was laying there, I felt compelled to just call the surgeon's office directly. The receptionist said "Oh, my goodness, I happened to run into the nurse from your GI's office in the cafeteria. She told me about your situation. Then, when I walked in from lunch we had a cancellation. Can you be here by 2:00?" I said I would be right over. I was praying the whole way over there for God to step in and make a way for me to have the surgery ASAP! As I walked into the surgeon's office the receptionist greeted me and said "you are the luckiest person I have ever met". Apparently while I was racing over there someone called to cancel their pre-op visit and I was put on the schedule for the following day. I said "that is not luck it's a huge blessing!" So I had the surgery, made a freakishly quick and complete recovery and was released from almost two years of chronic pain. Halleluia!
In October my Grandmother, Mattie had a stroke and I was so blessed to be able to go to Dallas and sing to her and love on her and whisper words of thanks and comfort in her ear. On a Monday morning I came into her hospital room and told her she was safe and that she had done a good job. That we were all so proud of her. That if Jesus was calling her it was okay to go. I wrenched myself away from her and tearfully headed home to make it back to Houston in time to get the kids after school. She passed away peacefully an hour after I left. All I can say is what an honor and a privelege it was to be with her in that time. As Forrest Gump would say: 'That's all I've got to say about that'.
One of my friends said jokingly the other day; " Man...the women in your family are dropping like flies." I had to laugh. What else can you do? At family gatherings it will be strange. Like...'Where'd everybody go'? But we will adjust. At no other time in my life have I become more acutely aware of the "peace that passes understanding". Or that "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me". He does. Without a doubt. Regardless of what came to pass in 2009...I am so grateful to God for the grace and mercy and miracles that came along with the heartbreak. It is when we are at our weakest and most vulnerable that we seek Him most earnestly. God is good all the time. Even when we are too miserable to notice. The blessings are always there. It's only a matter of looking up to see them. Be blessed.