Sometimes I lose count of how many years Pain has been with me. Not because the Pain goes away, but it has become very "familiar" to me and the memory of being normal is long gone. I think of all the physical work that is no longer a part of me: gardening, mowing, building fences, painting, even pulling weeds from my flower beds. My identity seemed so connected to physical labor since I was a very young child and my tiny legs moved fast to keep up with the long stride of my precious Dad. Each time he went outside, there I was right beside him, asking so many questions like, "Daddy, why is that chicken jumping on top of the other one all the time?"
His face would turn red. Then I recall something being said about that being the way chickens are, and he would move on quickly to get off the subject that I was too young to comprehend. The day my Dad passed, he called me, and we talked as I was on my way for more Pain injections. I still recall him telling me in a firm voice, "Well Sister, I am afraid that Old Pain is going to stay with you for the rest of your life. But you are strong, don't forget that!" I assured him that his words would stay with me and promised to see him within the next day or two. But the Lord was ready to call him home. My sister phoned me just when we got home from the Pain Clinic and told me, "Come quick, Daddy is waiting for you." The Lord blessed me with a few moments of being with my dear Dad, and I was able to tell him how much I loved him.
I have pondered deeply on that phone call and wondered, "Why did he tell me about the Pain staying with me?" We had not talked about it much, and yet there he was, in his final day and reaching out to give me words that would stay with me forever. When I think about it, the Lord used my Dad to give me the example of what it was like to live with Chronic Pain, to have all your physical abilities taken from you and yet still bless you with a sense of humor, being able to laugh during the worst of times. One day while he was still with us, I went to see him and realized he badly needed a shave. So we both agreed, let's try it. Right as I got the razor close to his face, he paused a moment, took my hand in his and said, "Now I bet you might want to slice my throat for being a tough Dad. But if you don't mind, I would like to live through this shaving episode!" We laughed so hard, and I promised to not do any permanent damage to him.
My sister-in-law, who is paralyzed and in a wheelchair, gave me a strong reminder about "counting our blessings" as she shared with me about her joy of being able to get in her van, take a drive and it hitting her so fast, "Is this what it feels like to be normal?" It touched me deeply as I knew how deep that statement must run inside her heart. I do not have a clue as to what it is like to be in her position. All I can do is praise her and admire the amazing strength she holds onto.
So my goal is to take what the Lord has directly in front of me and be thankful for every bit of it. Nothing will be accomplished if I continue fussing about the things I can't do. After all, I will be keeping the promise made to my Dad so many years ago, "I will be strong and never forget that, even in my worst moments."
Keep looking up for a second of joy. It's always there.
God bless you all.