I keep thinking about last Thursday because it was such a breath of fresh air and a sign of hope. It was the last Thursday of the month which meant the opportunity to attend a Compassionate Friends meeting in Vernon. Marc and I briefly considered going but decided not to for four reasons:
- It was the ordination and installation of our new Bishop – but we didn’t end up going to that either.
- Zoe’s broken collarbone. We didn’t feel it was a wise move to take her to the ordination because it would be a crowded place where she ran the risk of being knocked down causing further injury. We couldn’t carry her and a stroller would be too jarring. We also didn’t want to leave her with a babysitter. Therefore we also didn’t really want to leave her with a babysitter to attend the Compassionate Friends meeting. We just felt better if one of us was with her until her shoulder was healed. The thing about a broken collarbone is that there is no outward sign of an injury so it’s so easy to forget it’s there. After a week of dealing with it ourselves there was no chance we’d forget even for a moment – those blood curdling screams are not something we’d care for her to repeat.
- We had a feeling that most of the meeting would be about the upcoming retreat, like it was last month, and we didn’t feel up to sitting there and listening to everyone going on about it, or talking it up, when we knew going was just not an option.
- It was my bi-monthly Estelle Day and that’s always a highlight for me and a priority for Marc that I go. (Apparently I’m a much nicer person to have around after having chatted it up with Estelle for a few hours. Go figure.)
So with that decision made and with Marc home, I was able to go to town a few hours early. The first thing I did with my unexpected free afternoon was stop at Tangles in the mall and see if there was any chance I could snag a walk-in appointment for a hair cut. Ever since Bernadette got sick I’ve dreaded the conversations that take place during haircuts so I’ve been avoiding going until I’m beyond desperate. To my surprise and utter delight there was an opening for 3:00pm. I was so pleased at the prospect of finally getting my hair cut that as I walked down to the library my feet barely touched the ground.
On my way I noticed Nellie shopping so I deviated from my course to say hi. It felt good to connect with her even for a few minutes. We didn’t have to say much. Her “How are you?” and my “Oh you know.” and her “Yeah” said it all. Still the connection was an emotional lift. Cloud two.
Then at the library, Ron was able to fix Catherine’s library card. I was suppose to get email notifications when she had items due or ready to be picked up. The shock of $7.70 in fines in her first month of having her own card was our clue that the notifications weren’t coming. This was my second attempt at addressing the problem so I wasn’t getting my hopes up, but Ron was able to fix it in less than two minutes. Not only that, he graciously waved the $7.70 fine because he said it was their fault that Catherine’s account was checked NOT to send notifications for overdue items, items held, and items coming due – everything we wanted notifications for! When I left the library I knew Catherine would be thrilled that her fines were waved that I was walking on cloud three! A surprise visit with Susan for the last half of her lunch break was a step up to cloud four.
Back at Tangles, to my surprise and immense relief the hairdresser I had, June, was no stranger to child loss. We had an unexpected ‘safe’ visit and when I left she gave me a big hug. I walked out of the salon leaving a huge weight behind – and not just from my hair! I couldn’t believe I’d found a hairdresser who felt safe. I was able to share a little bit about Bernadette with her the same as I would at a Compassionate Friends meeting and she was compassionate, understanding, and didn’t give advice that hurt or was unrealistic. As I stood in the middle of the mall with her business card in hand, I was almost giddy because now I didn’t have to keep putting off getting a hair cut. I could now schedule a Compassionate Friends meeting for two over a haircut and a $5.00 tip!
After that I saw Eva grocery shopping – another mom who’d lost a young daughter. I wanted to stop and say hi to her as well but the large class of water I’d had before leaving home was putting pressure on my old bladder, so much so that even a quick hi was not an option. When I returned to where I’d seen Eva she was gone and it wasn’t until I was actually driving out of the parking lot that I saw her again. Still, just seeing her and her usual peaceful smile was uplifting. To me she always radiates hope. Her presence there in the parking lot was another gentle reminded that I wasn’t alone battling this tormenting pain of child loss. I’d just run into three moms in ninety minutes . Three being a God number! Maybe He was trying to get my attention.
From the mall I went to PJ’s to meet with Estelle. By then I was walking on cloud seven. Had a wonderful visit with Estelle as usual and she was even able to help me with a writing project that I’ve been stuck on for years. By the time we left PJ’s I was definitely on cloud nine! I honestly don’t remember the last time my heart felt so light and encouraged.
On the way home Estelle’s words, “God will provide” rang in my ears. She was referring to His help with my writing project that I was now enthused about but I was thinking more about my entire outing. I’d come to town feeling a little down that I’d just said good-bye to Toni who was heading back to Calgary, that we missed both the ordination and the Compassionate Friends meeting and feeling exhausted from an intense week with a cranky two-year-old. I came home peaceful and enthusiastic for the first time in forever. God provided a Compassionate Friends afternoon that was more fulfilling than if we’d gone to the meeting in Vernon.
Now I know too that I can once again feel more than sadness, numbness, and shades of grey. I can experience peace and prolonged moments of happiness. To be honest, I’d almost given up hope. To laugh for a moment is one thing. To have prolonged moments of happiness and peace is another thing all together.
Last Thursday was a sign of hope on the horizon. A chance to walk on the clouds for a change instead of just clinging to my little raft for dear life. It was a break in the storm and a chance to breath. Since then I’ve had some pretty dark days, moments, and waves of grief but the difference now is I know that there is hope for more days like last Thursday because I can’t see God teasing me with just one.