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Thanksgiving and The Depths of Despair

Years ago when our youngest was four one of her favorite “games” to play at Occupational Therapy was something she called “The Depths of Despair”, based off a song from the Disney movie - The Little Mermaid I think.  Given that she was embroiled in a period of severe grief driven by her traumatic first year of life, the title of this game seemed apropos. I wondered aloud to her therapist if she had invented this game to acknowledge where her heart had been.

I must admit this Thanksgiving week I have been playing my own version of The Depths of Despair. Monday we had the appointment with my mom’s new oncologist, followed by rounds of calls with nurses about Hospice, palliative care, MRI’s, radiation oncology – it goes on and on.

Add to that the almost impossible logistics of getting someone who is now totally wheelchair-bound to the doctor’s office and a father who is struggling with both dementia and the news that his wife of 50 years is facing death and you have the migraine headache that hit me as I left Central Baptist on Monday and which has lingered on the edges of my mind since then.

So it was to The Depths of Despair I swam on Tuesday night. When a dear neighbor called to inquire how things were going I unloaded briefly and then regretted it thinking, “She does not want to hear all this.”

I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I couldn’t even seem to put into words all the stuff that has hit my life and is not leaving anytime soon. So instead I made dinner for my family and went to my quiet place – a chaise lounge in our bedroom.

There in the dim light of my reading lamp I thought about all I have to be thankful for. As my past posts here attest I am usually able to step away from the stress and turmoil of life and see the positives, the things to be grateful for, the God-things. Whether it was in the challenges of raising our children or the difficulties of parenting elderly parents, when the going got tough I could get going on all the good swirling around the bad.

Not so this night. It was not that I could not recognize the blessings. They were there on the tip of my tongue; the list was lovely and long, I could have popped open my laptop and enumerated them right here. But my heart was just not in it.

Thanksgiving or not, my soul ached for less despair and dying, less stress and daily struggle, an end to all that is Hell right now.

So I guess on this Thanksgiving one thing that I am grateful for, as weird as it sounds, is my heart’s ability to not only rise above all the s--- in life but also to sit and feel it at times too. For how else do we process it up and out of our souls? A wise four year old taught me that.

Now if the tears would just come and wash away this pain I could move on to my huge list of blessings.