I admit I made it up. But it sort-of describes how I feel.
Sometimes Life is weird. Sometimes it comes at you with so much force and power, with so much truth that you cannot ignore it, even though you want to with every part and portion of yourself.
Sometimes we, as human beings feel utterly alone. Sometimes we feel so completely alone that we have no choice but to call out to some being much greater and more powerful than ourselves to intercede; to listen to us cry, because we believe there is no one on the planet who wants to hear or could possibly understand.
And sometimes, when we feel the most alone, someone will reach out to us taking us completely by surprise, to let us know that we are NOT alone at all. That God is there, and that he loves us. And...He usually works through people.
We talk about mid-life crises. We laugh about them and joke about people who suddenly change their look, their car, their job, their spouse... chalking it all up to the "Mid-life Crisis" they must be going through. We laugh, roll our eyes, we say "oh dear, that's too bad"...
I had a birthday on May 8th, my 52nd birthday. Before that, on April 23rd I had my 33rd wedding anniversary.
I know that I should have had my "crisis" on my 50th birthday, not my 52nd. Call it a delayed reaction, call it whatever you want. But it didn't really get full-blown until then.
Or some time after. Whenever it was, it hit me HARD. I cried for weeks. I couldn't stop crying. I cried every time I turned around. I couldn't sit through church, I couldn't carry on a normal conversation without breaking down. There was clearly something very wrong. My kids were all very worried. My husband was freaking out. I was freaking out. I realized suddenly that something had to change.
Before I continue...
This story is actually a two part saga. I will start with part one today. Maybe I'll get to part two in a couple of weeks, or months.
It's more than anyone really wants to read about in one sitting anyway, right?
My relationship with my father was always strained. As a child I knew he didn't have time for me. He was hardly ever at home anyway; but his work and his church responsibilities kept him far too busy to talk to me, or any of us for that matter. The only real interaction we had was when I was in trouble. My mother would wait till he got home and then unload all the naughty things I had done that day on his expectant ears. Then I got a good dose of his attention! But not the attention I really wanted from him. He scared me. His anger and his complete power over me was incredibly frightening. He had a way of glaring at me, and flaring his nostrils, baring his teeth...it was terrifying! I didn't really like him. I was pretty sure he didn't like me either. I was never allowed to express my feelings, my opinion, or to defend myself.
Besides that, my father was so much larger than me, not just physically, but his whole personal presence was just BIG. He commanded attention and awe whenever he entered a room. He controlled the conversation...was always the center of attention. He had no patience for anyone who didn't agree with his point of view, which he voiced loudly and often to any who would listen. He seemed to be so completely sure of himself! He seemed to expect me, and everyone else to believe that his way of looking at everything was correct, and that we must never challenge that correctness. Being the person that I am, that was almost impossible for me to do. It was only a matter of time. As an adult, I would have to breach that "agreement" at some point... at several points as it turned out.
There have been many, but the last horrific confrontation I had with my father was in my kitchen on Christmas day, 2012. I spent the better part of Christmas day in my bedroom crying after a serious altercation with him and his BIG personality. He attacked and humiliated me for disagreeing with him about something. My two eldest sons; 24 and 28 years old, both came into my room afterwards and consoled me, telling me that he was wrong, that I was right, but that I should let it go and be the bigger person. They didn't want me missing out on Christmas because of my father. It was hard for me, but I finally did come back to the "party". My father never apologized for his behavior. He never admitted it was out of line for him to do that on Christmas day, in my home, in front of his grandchildren. I decided to let it go. "He's old", I told myself. "I need to just forget about it." Which I tried to do.
After that, all of our conversations were light and superficial. He and my mother continued to come for dinner at our home every Sunday afternoon. I somehow was able to avoid any and all topics that would start an argument. For instance: you do not discuss politics with my father, unless you want to start a holy war. Its best to steer that one right out the door before it gets full-blown. And there are many others topics to avoid, which I have been dutifully successful at avoiding.
So it seems I've been playing patty cake with him for the last several months, doing whatever it takes to keep him on a positive note, and feeling like he is unchallenged.
Then the accident happened.
On July 30th, my aged parents were driving very late at night on a long stretch of highway after attending an opera. My dad was driving, and apparently either fell asleep at the wheel or was bumped into by another vehicle, causing him to veer across four lanes of the freeway into an open field at 75 MPH. The car went flying through the field completely out of control, with windows shattering glass into their faces while sailing over bumps and crevasses in the field that sent them airborne. They then came barreling through two chain link fences into a neighborhood of a small town. After crashing into parked cars and ricocheting off curbs, they finally hit a tree which brought them to an abrupt halt. The airbags did not deploy. My Father was pinned in such a way that he could not be taken out the usual way, but had to go through the back of the car. He had suffered many injuries due to the steering wheel, and the sideboards that he hit repeatedly with his body. The seat belts that both of them were wearing saved their lives, but did some damage of their own. Long story short, my father suffered 6 broken ribs, some with multiple breaks, a broken back, lacerated spleen, liver, and intestines, and internal bleeding that eventually caused his lungs to collapse, not to mention being beaten and bruised and cut. My mother seemed to escape with only the bruises and bumps, (which looked pretty gruesome I must admit) and a painfully sore back, neck and pelvis. She was sent home the following day, but was completely incapacitated and still requires constant care. She also suffers from Alzheimer's, which has only worsened since the accident.
My father actually died clinically at one point when his heart stopped beating and he had to be resuscitated. Dad was put in ICU in the trauma unit and was there for two 1/2 weeks before being transferred out of ICU. It has been a very long drama. I have never spent more hours in the hospital in my life, even with the birth of my seven kids, and my own life-threatening experiences (where I spent a while in the hospital myself) added together. This was something entirely different. Watching my father cling to life has been heart-wrenching and cleansing for me in ways I can't totally explain.
Through this series of events, I came to see my father as the fragile human being that he really is. Suddenly he was not the larger than life character that held me spellbound in fear as a child and an adolescent. Now he looked at me with agony and fear on HIS face! He grasped my hand and squeezed it as he writhed in pain and fought for breath. Now at times he looked at me with tenderness and gratitude for my presence with him during this frightening battle for his life. He became the child, and I the strong presence.
Seeing him in this situation has begun to heal my heart, and has begun to teach me about forgiveness. I didn't even realize how much pain I had harbored inside with regard to my father. And now it was being purged from me without my even trying. This was and is actually a miracle.
( My dad and mom today, celebrating his 89th birthday.)
Jesus Christ understands and knows our hearts. He knows how we can be healed. He is the master healer.
Part two of the Mid-Life Crisis:
(to be continued)
Love to all of you,