There’s a bird caw-caw-cawing somewhere out back. I can hear him even though the windows are closed. Even though I know the call is coming from a big, dirty, black bird, it makes me smile. It’s such a welcome sound. If I listen carefully, I can hear the softer, songs of daintier birds in the background. Spring seems to have arrived, at least for the weekend. I won’t get my hopes up. After all, it’s only March. But it has been a forgiving winter. I’m grateful for the early arrival of warmer days.
The last two weeks – I don’t know where they’ve gone. Mom had some bad days. Work was overwhelming. The last weekend got sucked up by other obligations. There’s always so much to do, and the more I cross off the list, the more gets added. Days keep marching on, ready or not.
Yet … I know I don’t have anything to complain about. I have a job – one that I love. I have a family that stays as close as I can hope. And they are all doing okay. They’re well. They’re safe. And Mom is okay. She just had a few bad days and seems to be on the upswing again. The house may have needed a good cleaning, but if that’s my biggest worry, I’ll take it. I know I have it good.
Last week, we learned of a death – the daughter of some old friends. She succumbed to brain cancer at just thirty years old. Parents, siblings, and a significant other left to grieve her passing from this life.
Last week, someone I’ve been worried about for a while finally ran out of luck. She got a DWI. And the weight of her world was too heavy already.
Last week, I talked to my best friend. She’s out of state, and I haven’t managed to connect with her in months. Texts have gone unanswered, phone calls unreturned. Now I know why. The cancer she’s been fighting for years – and over which she had recently been gaining the upper hand – had moved into her brain. My heart weighed heavy as she told me. I didn’t have the guts to ask about her prognosis. As she talked, she proved that she continues to fight and maintain her fantastic sense of humor.
“My hair is gone,” she said. “Except for the one in the mole on my hand. And except for my mustache! Still have to keep waxing that damn thing!”
Sometimes I look around at the vast circle of people we hold close. There’s a lot of struggle and pain. I was thinking of my best friend, feeling like I haven’t been the friend I’m supposed to be to her. Half the time, I’ve been completely unaware of how bad it’s been for her, while I’m feeling sorry for myself because of something like not having time to sit down and write for a little while.
I pray for her constantly these days, but it doesn’t feel like enough. I told her story – anonymously – on a prayer board, wanting more prayers for her. I’m asking for a miracle, even though I know it’s out of my hands. I selected the option to receive a text message every time someone prayed for my request. (Faith has gone all technology! Pretty cool!) My phone buzzed all morning long, signaling offered prayers. It’s astounding to realize there are people in this world who will hope and pray for someone they don’t even know.
I read through the multitudes of other requests out there and offered prayers for people I don’t know. It’s becoming a daily thing I do. Homelessness, brokenness, sickness, mental illness, addiction, financial distress… the list goes on and on. It’s heart-breaking to realize that there are others who would trade their problems for mine in a heartbeat. It’s humbling to realize how blessed I am – and for how long I’ve taken that for granted. It’s opened my eyes to a million ways I can give back and do something for others. And it gives me hope. It’s so easy to close myself up in the comfort of my own world, but more and more lately, I realize I’m not meant to shrink away like that. I’m supposed to do something about it, get in the mud and help wherever I can. However I can. Even if it’s as simple as just hoping and praying.
Life is messy, no doubt. But life is good.