Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Expectation of Joy

Those things you were so up in arms about yesterday? They don't matter.

That argument happening on FB? Not really worth it.

The project with a deadline? It can wait.

How, you may wonder? How can you not get caught up in the noise, in the hustle? When the world demands we attend every argument, achieve the next goal right now, and purchase the shiniest things all the while documenting it in pretty little squares? This is why. We don't have to attend because we are focused.

Our reality is that when pain and suffering entered the picture, we got this razor sharp focus. I talk and write a lot about how I am grateful for the perspective Jack's life has given us and when I do, I am really talking about focus. We know what matters and quite frankly, on many days, it is just taking the next breath. We know that this life is so fragile and short. We make the most of our sitution. We celebrate and enjoy the good times like no other.

But that doesn't mean this perspective is even remotely what I long for on a daily basis. No, I'd say I long for comfort. Sometimes I want to attend those silly arguments. Sometimes I want to care about something else or go back to a time when life wasn't so difficult. Especially on the hard days, when Jack is struggling through a migraine and all I'm thinking about is the next med dosage and wondering if this is actually a stroke or a seizure, I don't especially love this razor sharp focus.

Then I remember that focus and feeling strongly about the most important things has its benefits. Of course it hurts, perhaps even a majority of the time it hurts, but it can also feel incredibly good. Jack being discharged from the NICU comes to mind. Would I have been able to understand that almost euphoric, razor sharp joy of walking out those hospital doors and into my car without the back story? Without knowing intimately each and every step it took to get us to that point? Would it have felt the same? Of course not.

When you spend so much of your time in sharp focus, pain resides closely to joy. I spend many of my days feeling like joy is right over the horizon and even though I can't see it at the moment, I know it's coming. Most days, I'm living in hopeful expectation of joy. And when that joy does come, there is no need to focus on anything else.

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Laura Maikata said...

Yes. Yes to joy and pain residing so closely together. Yes to hurting and rejoicing and living in the paradox of both regret and thankfulness.

Thank you. I am here this week, with new tests on the horizon for my preemie son, with a hard road walked that seems to not end. Dust covered, I am grateful for the mud rain brings. We sludge on, and it is tiring, but then I look and see that we are still here, and some days I fill with tears and don't know if they are joy or pain or both. But we are alive, and I am, at the depth of it all, grateful.

Thank you for expressing this so well.

Two months after my son was born a friend of ours was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. His journey and my son's journey were hard and long, and as he speaks about it, he resonates with the pain and triumph and shouts and laments that our family faced in the NICU. I didn't expect a book about cancer to speak to micropreemie parenting, but it was so good to find someone who understood the depths of life. His book is called _Rejoicing in Lament_ (Billings), and your post title reminded me of his title.

Sharp focus. Pain and joy. Paradox. Life.

Thanks for this post.

SOMHELP said...

I love it, your description inspires reflection and provides a usable tool for dealing with difficult (not adequate, I know) situations. Focusing on the joy that is over the hill, rather than the immediate pain.

Sandi said...

Thank you so much. I love your ability to put your feelings into words. I also am the mom of a micro preemie. I feel friends & family just aren't able to understand us. I often feel guilty about the pain I've felt since my son's birth & release after a 4 month NICU stay. I can't tell you how many people have told me to "just be happy he's alive".

Thank you for writing the words that I am unable to write.

I love your blog & love feeling less isolated.


Alisha said...

YES. This times a thousand. All last year while I was sick and Lucy was in the NICU, I was reduced both physically and mentally to only focusing on our little family. Once she came home, it was the same. It's only now that I'm starting to even care about other things, especially carefree things like TV shows, Facebook, etc. When something so terrible happens, we have to just let everything else go!