Sunday, April 29, 2012

Before and After

I used to think that hardships came with a definite before and after.  One minute, you're living your life one way and everything seems normal and routine.  The next, life is altered irretrievably and nothing is the same.

The doctor says the worst.

The car comes out of nowhere.

The storm rages.

We are thanked by a grateful nation.

But I've come to understand that it's not always like that.  There is no dividing line or dramatic chapter close, no small voice saying, "This is the moment everything changed".  No switch gets flipped from before, to after.

In reality, it's more like taking a bath than jumping into a pool.  The water runs, and we step in, little by little, until eventually we are fully submerged.  There are steps, and signs, and small adjustments we make before the end result is there.

The pain lasts for weeks.

The memory is less and less reliable.

The arguments grow in number and intensity.

The Soldier's gear is packed.

I've been thinking about these things lately because we've had some recent moments where I have wondered, "Is this it? Is this when it changes?"   I imagine almost everyone has had times like these.  Whether it's waiting with someone for a bus or an airplane ride, or waiting for the doctor examination to be finished, we hold our breath just a moment.  Is this where we draw that line?

Since I was a child, I've always had the sense that life can change with little notice.  One day, I was pretty oblivious and mostly happy; the next I was told that one of my parents no longer loved the other.  For me, in that moment, there was a definite before and after.  When you're a kid, you don't see all of the smaller things that lead up to the big decision, so it seems like it's just a sudden channel change.  Perhaps because of that, I often find myself holding my breath, just a little, waiting for big changes.

I'm older now, of course, and I know that most change in life is gradual.  Most "big events" have smaller precursors that clue us in that something will change, and soon.  We are, thank God, given the opportunity to prepare and pray and focus.

And still...   I know life changes quickly sometimes.  

What moments have you had, where you wondered "Is this it?"  I know some of my friends have had diagnoses they didn't want to hear, or letters they didn't want to receive, or other huge life-changing moments.  Some of these changes are good ones, and some of them are scary or even the worst news we could imagine.  What are yours?

So tell me-- Does life turn on one of these?

No comments:

Post a Comment