Once upon a time, when our babies were babies, I met Amy at a New Mothers Group at Estes Park Medical Center. We sat around a spare conference room in the hospital where our babes were born and chatted about new mothering things. Feeding, diaper rash, medication, sleep deprivation, baby sign language and other important baby whatnot. More importantly, we made friends. Those first months of mothering are so intense – something that all mothers can understand, but understood best by those who are also in the trenches at the exact same moment.
Amy was always there, a light of a smile when I entered the room. Her calm demeanor and peaceful optimism were always present.
Fast forward 8 years, still a beautiful mother and wife as always, she is now suffering from an autoimmune disease which reeks havoc on her body and has her tethered to her oxygen anchor most of the time. But, in Amy style, it can’t keep her spirit down. I would love to share her most recent “Transparency Tuesday” facebook status update with you because it was so inspiring to me:
In Amy’s own words:
This week I have had a kidney infection, again, and the pain and fatigue is intense. Additionally, I have this oxygen tethered to me at all times. It is cumbersome! When these things hit I have to slow down even more than usual. This goes against my nature. There is so much to DO! I think back to my lifestyle before my illness hit: I wanted to live a full life! I lived as if it was a race; a challenge to get everything in! Work days were power work days. Shopping days were shop ’till you drop days. Play days were play hard days. Vacation was full of going, doing, seeing, searching, eating. Go, go, go! Go like mad! THAT is how we really LIVE a “full” life!
But, when my frenzied lifestyle crumbled due to chronic illness, I was forced to change. The change has taught me a valuable lesson: I was, like so many, living life so “fully” that I was missing out on the REAL fullness of life.
For example: Here was my trip to Safeway the other day. The ONLY thing I “fully” accomplished was picking up my meds at the pharmacy. That is it. It took me two hours. Ugh. But wait!! I experienced the day fully because I was in no hurry. I had slowed down. So, I noticed the woman having trouble getting out of her car. I was able to help her out of her car and into the store. She had just moved to Estes Park. Her Florida roots have caused her to wear ridiculous shoes for this weather. I had a chance to welcome her to our little paradise. Tell her the best place in town to buy boots! Made a friend and invited her to church!
I see the elderly man who looks overwhelmed in the bread isle. I have the time to strike up a conversation; ask him if he needs help with anything. He is a new widower. He doesn’t remember ever buying bread before. He says, “She always did this part.” My heart aches as I gently tell him what brand I choose and why.
I am next in line but I tell the lady at the pharmacy desk to, “Take her time,” as I am not in a hurry. She is able to answer the phone while I wait. She helps a lady who is dealing with new insurance and has a sick kiddo. Good. She then gives me her full attention for my transaction. Instead of apologizing and frowning because I am angry she interrupted the queue, she is smiling now.
As I make my way to the front of the store, I stop to watch a child. A little girl about four years old. She is picking out a birthday card for her grandma. She is carefully listening to her mom read each one. I can tell the mother has been there for a while, but she is patient. Allowing her little one to succeed in the very early autonomous success.
My phone rings. I have the “time” (or just the willingness to spend the time) to stop and listen as my friend tells me about her less than happy news. She has called me just as I am ready to check out and if I answer I will lose my place in line. I could grumble or ignore the call. I am glad I didn’t; she is in tears. I am able to remind her of God’s ever present love and care. His hard work at making things good for those that love him.
I finally make it home. I am tired so I sit. I should start dinner, but I sit and I look out the window. Because I took a moment to rest, I notice that something seems off next door. There is movement in the field. My husband and I are able to rescue our elderly neighbor because I SEE him laying down in the field, the snowy field next to the icy driveway. He has been there for a while and it was starting to get dark. What if I hadn’t stopped?
So, no, I didn’t accomplish much of anything, but I experienced the fullness that life has to offer. Friend, I understand that lots of life is busy. Sometimes we must rush. We have no other option. I know some of you work extra jobs to just make ends meet and having the time I have described sounds like a fairy tale. I know some of you have a heart full of willingness but also a minivan full of kids and your own business and volunteer activities and an elderly parent. This was not intended to make you feel bad for being busy. It is just a reminder to slow down when you can. Please take what you can from this lesson I have learned by necessity. Slow down and look, listen, observe. Just a little. Take a deep breath and give it a try. Focus on experiencing the fullness of life! I dare say it is worth your time.