Its been a long six months or so: in September, my step-grandpa died (I was grateful we'd been able to spend some meaningful, quality time with him on our last trip home last June); a few weeks later, a family friend passed away; my grandma has been in and out of the hospital a few times (she has leukemia and a broken hip); half the town went freaking nuts and caused a whole lot of stress, which led to Doug's boss resigning, which led to a new boss, which led to a crazy hostile work environment, which led to Doug quitting his job; so now we're on the hunt for a new job, whilst Doug finishes his professional project for his Master's degree; meanwhile, I've been pregnant through all the madness, and just welcomed a new baby. Throw in the daily challenges, stresses, mishaps and busyness of day-to-day, week-to-week life, and you have a recipe for a bit of emotional pandemonium.
And now Doug and his family are going to have to say goodbye to Grandma Barnes.
So, there it is, the reason I've been mostly MIA the last few months, and not just on my blog. I'm an introvert, and so my natural reaction when something is painful or difficult or stressful is to turn inward. I try to fight that, but the fact is I've been inching more and more towards hermit status in my daily life the last few months.
You know how when it rains, it pours? Life has been like this the last several months for most of our friends and extended family. Its a lot easier when one family kind of gets poured on and you can spread it around by reaching out to others who are having a bit more smooth sailing and therefore steady each other. But everyone has been slammed by circumstances that have caused them to struggle not to feel angry, frustrated, hurt and overwhelmed. Its just been a lot to absorb, adapt to, deal with, especially when most of the people you rely on for support feel emotionally or spiritually off-kilter as well.
But this morning I have been thinking about Easter, for the reasons that we celebrate--the life of the Savior and the Atonement--and about my own grandma's passing away and the importance of perspective. My twin brother and I were very, very close to my mom's mom; we spent nearly as much time in her care as we did my mom's, it seemed like. My aunt called the house to let us know that Grandma was gone, and I was tasked with telling my siblings. I found my twin brother at our dad's office working. I walked in and just said, rather weakly, "Grandma's gone". His eyes welled up with tears as he smiled, very genuinely, and replied, "Good for her." I was so grateful for that, because I knew that he meant it--I needed that reminder. With that simple sentence and bright smile at a moment of grief, he reminded me that good-byes are not forever, and brighter blessings lay ahead.
For Family Home Evening this week, we talked about the last days of Jesus' life and the Resurrection. We talked about his prayers and the commencement of the Atonement in the Garden of Gesthemane, and his death upon the cross. As Keilana helped me explain how he was hung on the cross, Dylan said, "Ouchie. That would hurt really bad." I agreed and explained that Jesus felt every kind of owie and hurt that there is, so that he can always know how to make us feel better when we get hurt. We talked about repentance and forever families. That's the perspective that matters--the perspective that keeps us joyful even in stressful times or hard losses.
When Doug left his job, he asked me if I was upset or worried. My response was that, even in the worst case scenario I can imagine stemming from that decision, my babies won't go hungry and they'll have a safe place to sleep at night. The rest we can work out. From a temporal perspective, we've had a hard six months. From an eternal perspective, we're just fine, and we're going to be OK. So are our loved ones.
I think the hardest thing I've ever been through, emotionally, was saying good-bye to Conner, and watching Tim and Amanda hurt. I still have nightmares occasionally about losing one of my children. If that happened and I didn't have the Gospel, I think that emotionally I would be completely crippled. I am so grateful to know that the Savior knows loss, loneliness, grief and pain better than anyone, and so the one perfect and utterly guiltless being, submitted himself to the demands of justice for the transgressions of others, so that those feelings need not be permanent for anyone. I am grateful to know that even the one thing that seems so final, so complete--death--holds no real power, because he conquered it in the Resurrection.
As Easter approaches, I am grateful to know that he lives. I am grateful that he loves me and is mindful of me--of that I am absolutely certain. I am grateful that he has blessed my life so abundantly that even during times of stress and difficulty, there are a ridiculous amount of things to be grateful for and happy about. I know that the Savior gave all that we might be able to obtain all that he received. Day by day, I strive to live to be worthy of such a gift.