Thursday, July 12, 2012

Booming Voices and What Comes Next?

Standing in front of the railroad tracks that are down at the beach near my home, I often take the moment or two in which I am forced to stop in my own tracks to feel the absolute force of the passing train and then I think about God or my children or my husband and sometimes rarely, about myself, and I pray. I do not usually use any formal version of prayer but more of a conversational tone with God asking Him to watch over, to guide, to consider, and most importantly, to protect.  I never ask for anything tangible.  No cars or cash prizes or anything that my husband and I do not earn.  No, to me there are much, much more important reasons to talk to God and I would never want to waste His time with stuff.  That is what Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy or our Fairy Godmothers are for, cash prizes, shiny new cars and stuff.  I do not often get any answers but there are times when I walk away feeling heard, even acknowledged and yet, how would I even know whether or not I was actually acknowledged.  It isn't as if God really speaks out loud in a booming voice.(At least to me, He doesn't.  Now Moses might have been a very different story.)

A decade ago on July 9, I turned 40 years old which means that I am now 50.(Glad that I did the math for you?)  So many things have happened over the past decade since that wonderful surprise party that Mark threw for me for my fortieth birthday.  We have had four daughters graduate from High School and so far, one from college with honors.  We celebrated with great joy as each of our youngest three daughters became Bat Mitzvahs and young women in the eyes of our congregation.  My beloved grandmother passed away on my birthday at the strong age of ninety one years old and I lost my younger brother, my only sibling, at the far too young age of forty one years young, to sudden heart failure and heart ache.  I(temporarily) lost my beautiful nieces to a woman who is supposed to care for them based upon their best interests.  We made our way through the terrible maze of the family court system with my sister-in-law and we found out just how many rights that I do not have as the only living sibling of a dead brother/father.  We found a loop-hole in the law that saved us from salt in a gaping wound and left my SIL wondering whether or not it was honestly worth over $100,000 to hold a grudge against people who she supposedly cared for at some point in time.  I watched as my parents mourned the death of their only son in very different ways.  We made a drastic life-altering change in homes, moving down to the beach where my soul can really breathe.  We hunted for sea glass as I hunted for peace.  I faced the reality that this illness may never again, head back into remission and I came to terms with that.  My family struggled as they came to terms with the same illness.  I watched as my daughters acted in commercials and danced, created photographic brilliance for magazines and created beautiful pieces of clothing from almost nothing.  I sat back and whispered prayers for my daughters as they experienced break-ups, heart ache and independence.  We traveled and stayed put.  I lost some friends on purpose and gently let some go when our friendships no longer served either one of us.  I made some wonderful connections with the most unlikely of individuals.  I kept myself sane with the assistance of my therapist who is really just a friend that I pay to listen to me while I work out my own stuff.  I helped two babies leave the nest while almost dreading the day when the next two must take off too.  I clung tightly to my oldest friend and shared in the joy of her amazing grandbabies!  My marriage became an even more valuable entity in my life and my husband, an even better best friend.  So much has happened during the decade between my fortieth and fiftieth years and truthfully I cannot say that this has been the best ten years of my life.  I readily admit that the last decade has been hard, very, very hard.  I mean, raising four teenage daughters at one time was a feat in itself, but now I know and I recognize the "stages" as they do surely come and the blows are definitely much softer.  I have experienced some of the worst that there is(and some of the best) and I have come out stronger on the other side.  I also know what I now must do as I enter into the next decade of my life.  No more hiding behind my jobs as a wife and a mother, although those are the two most important jobs that I could ever hold in any lifetime and they will always be my jobs.  But there is some clarity and freedom in knowing that I have accomplished the job of being a good mother which is something that I wanted to do, craved doing, since the day that I could first push my first baby doll around in a toy stroller.  And although the past decade of that job has been the toughest, there is no place else that I would rather have been because I got to do it with the most incredible husband and the most wonderful children.  Maybe these fantastic people are the biggest answers to my conversations with God.  Maybe they are living, breathing, booming voice examples as to how God feels about me and maybe, just maybe, the language that God uses with me is just a different language than what I might expect.
Birthdays are a contemplative time for me and this one certainly more so than 99.9% of the forty nine others that I have been lucky enough to celebrate.  For some reason though, 50 feels like an achievement to me.  I feel like having lived for a half of a century gives me some credibility that I was not as secure in before and now, I can own it all.  From the wonderful to the not so wonderful, there is a strength of will that has developed in me throughout the course of my years and I feel very centered in that strength.  I am not at all sure where the next ten years of my life will lead, but I do know this.  It is time for me to learn more about who I am as a woman, as an individual and as a student of life.  I am not used to being in the forefront of my own life so the vantage point from here is a little bit scary, but I do know that it is time.  It is time for me to face the possibilities with strength and fortitude.  Maybe the difficulties which seemed to come one after the other after the other over the course of my forties were meant to set me up with a new kind of steadiness for the decade to come.  I do know that we are never immune from the painful or the difficult or the formidable but maybe now, things won't take the same toll on me as they once did.  I am looking forward to this next phase of my life.  And maybe the next time that the train speeds past me down at the beach, I will converse with God a little bit more about myself. I will ask Him, "What next?"  And maybe, being more familiar with the language that He has shared with me for most of my life, it will be easier to hear the answers and I will feel confident in what  will come next.


Angella Lister said...

dear debra, take my hand. we are in the same place. we'll do this walk together. my love to you.

Renee said...

Congratulations dear Debra! Fifty! Your post is so powerful it has touched me in so many ways. I am way ahead of you having turned 64 in March, but I feel like this year has been powerful with God speaking to me often and leading me on my journey or walking beside me on it. He never tires of hearing from us and he never runs out of time! Bless you as you enter into this decade of new adventures!!!

Ness said...

When I turned 50, the world was trembling at the fear of me conquering it; by 51 I had charted my course and on 071905 I was mowed down by thyroid cancer. Moreso, my surgeon was, because I think we as individuals have these "gut feelings" and I knew it was cancer, told him that and he said he was 99.9% sure it was not and he was only going to take out the left side of the thyroid. I knew that it was found quite accidently but miraculously by an old fashioned new-to-me doctor who at my initial visit palpated my thyroid and said, "It shouldn't be so hard. I want to do a sonogram." When I woke up from surgery, I looked at my husband's face and knew I had been right. Six hours later when I started hemorrhaging out and rushed back to surgery, I was ready to meet God. I woke up in ICU in the dark and heard "Be still my soul. The Lord is on thy side." I wanted to go home to IL so we moved home in March. I spent time evaluating life and decided that I would live in fantasy land 11 months of the year meeting blog friends, volunteering and living life. Every November I go to St. Louis for a week to have blood tests run and a whole body scan done to see if I'm still winning. I'm now 58, almost 7 years in remission, still plagued with fibro, CFS and depression but charting new courses. I went to see Alice in Georgia 2 weeks ago and I'm going to see Lori in MN and do the Light the Night cancer walk with her. Seemed an appropriate way to acknowledge my 7th year still on Earth. I have come into my own and have no regrets. Debbie, you are coming into your own. My next trip will be to your California perhaps in the Fall. Go forward into the 50's and be free to be you. If not now, when? Love you more than you can possibly know.

Ginny said...

I do believe as time passes, the events in our lives coupled with our beliefs and ability to reflect shapes us for an even better tomorrow. It seems your last ten years was quite a journey, both good and bad. You did it though. You are a strong and amazing woman. I hope the next phase is a little sweeter and full of "life."

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