It’s not like a wave that gives you ample time to prepare to brace yourself against it. It doesn’t loom and roll and crest before making it’s final foaming crash. You can’t see it coming.
It’s more like thunder during a storm. It crashes all around you in a surprise event. It catches you off guard and shakes your world in a matter of moments.
It hits when you aren’t expecting it: reality.
The first time it reared it’s unexpected head was before we left North America. I had spent the day at the park with my sisters and their kids. I helped my niece climb every ladder to the very top rung. I watched Lois smile and clap as my sister gently pushed her in the swing and talked sweetly to her. I gave my nephew the world’s best under-doggie as only Aunt Beth can do.
As we strolled away, reality hit. I will never do this again. That had been my last time to take a trip to the park with my family. Lois wouldn’t grow up playing with her cousins as I had always assumed she would. Time with my sisters would no longer be readily available. I was leaving. Leaving for good. I put on my brave face and swallowed the lump in my throat.
The next unexpected crash didn’t occur until after we were in China. I was video-chatting with a friend about the simple things in life. I told her about our apartment and she told me about work. She told me about the bulletin board by her desk. She told me she would put our picture there and tell everyone about her friend in China. I cried. I won’t be the lunch-date friend anymore. I’ll be the picture… the one that sits on the desk and gets talked about. The face that never actually gets seen.
These moments just hit.
I love my life here. I’m sincerely the happiest I’ve ever been. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. That doesn’t mean that I don’t hurt sometimes. Leaving did hurt. Leaving does hurt. Hug after hug tore my heart out. More than once I felt a physical pain for having to say good-bye.
These little epiphanies continue to happen as I realize my life has changed forever.
My friendships consist of smiles and hand gestures.
I have no Wal-Mart. (But I do have a Wu Mart)
Nobody even noticed that I’m wearing different make-up.
Ground beef is a thing of the past.
Along with these moments, and in greater supply, are the moments I realize the abundant blessings we are and will be receiving. Many of them I can’t express in this blog, but they are real and worth it. Two of these blessings involve an elderly lady (who we have adopted as Lois’ Chinese grandmother) and a teen-age boy. Their “forever” has been changed for the better and that alone has been worth every good-bye, every missed birthday and every memorable moment that would have been.
So, these moments are just that: moments. They come and pass. Just like thunder, they crack and then they are over. And once gone, the sun shines again.
I was writing this blog late Tuesday night. Suddenly our internet stopped working and we haven’t had it back until today. I didn’t know while I was writing it that a dear friend of mine, Joel, was in an accident in Holland. I did the math with the time change and realized that he probably died in the same hour that I wrote these words.
I re-read my blog post today and realized how petty it was. I came to the realization that life is short and we only get one shot at it. I scolded myself for having cried over my “problems” and thanked God for the awesome privilege of just being His child.
Joel’s wife, Collette is one of my nearest and dearest. She has stood by Joel’s side and been an example to me. She has shown wisdom beyond her years and she has encouraged me more than I’ll ever be able to express.
The reality is that she has taught and will continue to teach me. The reality is that I have nothing to complain about. The reality is that I need to stop these little pity parties. The reality is that we’re blessed. The reality is that next time a little “moment” pops up, I’ll remind myself of Joel and Collette and how much serving Jesus really matters. In light of that, everything else fades to almost nothing.
Reality is that Joel would’ve counted it a privilege to die in Holland.
Reality is that he lived his dream and today he’s in Heaven with his Creator… and that is a beautiful reality.