Life & God Moments

Seven years ago this month, my mom passed away after a long struggle with cancer. So much happened for me during that experience, seeing Mom suffer, journeying with my family, saying goodbye. My relationship with God also changed, as did my relationship to life. One paragraph or blog post can't do justice to it all, but I reevaluated my life plan and began to realize my heart's desire might also be God's desire for me. Let's just say questions were raised.

And yes, it's fair to say that these questions led me to consider religious life. By the time one year had passed, I was fairly certain that I wanted to become a Sister. I didn't enter religious life because my mom died, but journeying with my mom did help me to get to know God in different ways and realize that there was no sense waiting to live my life if that makes sense.

My Dad was a little sad, it seemed, and so to cheer him up around the one year anniversary I told him my secret, that I was exploring religious life. He'd always wanted me to be a Sister you see, and I thought it would make him happy which it did.

A few weeks later, my Dad was hospitalized and had emergency surgery. I flew back to be with him, and in the days following the surgery his brain was doing interesting acrobatic tricks and had him thinking all sorts of interesting things. But he remembered that I was going to become a Sister, which he proudly told all of the medical staff who were willing to listen. I had visions of my siblings coming to visit, and thinking that this Sister thing was one of his interesting imaginings. So in the course of half an hour, armed with a cell phone and standing in the hallway outside the ICU unit, I proceeded to call each of my siblings in turn. It went something like this ... "Hi, this is Susan. Dad's pretty stable, although he's also saying lots of crazy things. He might tell you that I'm becoming a nun. That's true. We can talk about it later after all of this." And then on to the next sibling. It was certainly an interesting way to share my nun news.

Why am I thinking about this now? Well, six years after that surgery, my Dad is having another very similar medical emergency in the same hospital. One of my other siblings is on their way to DC this time as the first family responder. I'm holding Dad in prayer, keeping in touch, and planning my own trip soon. In the meantime though, I'm thinking back to those very dark yet interesting days.

There is nothing like dealing with an ailing parent to make you grow up yourself. Really, I think, my relationship with God is what has changed through these 10 plus years of dealing with parental medical issues. It's hard to put my finger on it, but somehow in going through all of that anger with God, the "Why her" or "Why him" or "Why me"'s. The heart breaking reality of seeing a loved one suffer and realizing you can't really do anything other than be present in heart, mind and body when possible. The scary moment of realizing that we are all of us mortal beings and things happen to remind us of that daily. All of this mix somehow helped me to change my vision of God from someone up there who moves strings down here and causes things to happen, to developing a relationship with God in my inner most being and in the people around me, who is there in the tough times, who knows suffering, who knows the goodness of people, and in some mysterious way is present in love through all the messy stuff. There's something very human about the experience, meeting something that is "of God" in the most interesting ways.

The preliminary news from this current medical crisis is that his surgery went well. We have been able to tap into some supports over the past few months to help us help him mange his care from far away. But it doesn't make it any less scary, heart breaking or worrisome. Prayers are very welcomed for all families sorting through unexpected medical emergencies, mine included.


Pachyderm said...

(hug) Praying for you, your family, and your dad, Sister Susan.

Sr Therese

Kelly_SSJ said...

you've got 'em! prayers most especially for peace! Never forget that God is holding all of you in his loving hands always... (I know you know this...sometimes a reminder is nice!)

Cat said...

Susan, this blog post was so beautiful and resonated with me so much. I'm so grateful that you shared all this and will keep you, and all those with ailing family members, in my prayers.