Friday, March 13, 2015

Impossibly beautiful

Last night I was up in my room.  Pouting a bit.

Something about a bad day and cooking and finally getting Benjamin to bed only to find a kitchen full of dirty dishes upon my return.

Anyhow, I was proving a point.  I think.  By sequestering myself in my room, while the baby slept and the rest of my family played a video game together downstairs.

I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across a post from a blog I follow.  The blog is called Mundane Faithfulness, and I found it originally through a friend of a friend.  The writer, a wife and mother of four, is dying of cancer.  With beauty and so much grace she chronicles her journey, and allows her readers these small, sacred glimpses into her thoughts and her struggles and her joys.

In just a short time I've grown to love her.  Truly love her.  It sounds strange, I know, but if you read her blog, you'll understand why.

So when I watched the documentary trailer she posted just the other day, it felt like my heart was breaking.  I couldn't watch it any more than once, but I also couldn't stop thinking about it.  Because this one line nearly broke me.

She was lying in bed, with her little boy, and as they snuggled together he whispered in her ear, "I don't want you to go."

I'm not super emotional (quit laughing Joel), but this really did me in.  I forgot what I was pouting about and felt only this huge distance from my family.  This family that I am here with.  That is here with me.

And so I put down my phone and practically ran down the stairs.  I scooped Finn into my arms and I snuggled him so close.  I looked over at Aiden and told him how proud I am of him.

And all three looked at me a bit like I had two heads, and promptly proceeded to ignore me.

But I tried my best to soak it all in.  To be there.  To study each of their tiny features and to burn them and this moment into my mind forever.

Honestly, though, I couldn't figure out how to do it.  It's like I couldn't soak it in enough, couldn't soak them in enough, even as much as I tried.

I do have moments, where I feel like I'm all there.  All in.  Where I feel so connected to my kids and my husband.  Where they make me laugh or cry or light up inside, or all three at once.

But not when I force it.  Not when I try.  Those moments, they just happen.  They're like gifts.  Precious, surprise gifts that I didn't see coming, and that oftentimes leave me breathless in their swift departure.

And I wonder if stories like Kara's aren't teaching me to hold on tighter.  To squeeze until I suffocate the things that I love.

I wonder, in fact, if they're teaching me to let go.  To loosen my grip, instead.

To view these children and this family and this life, and even these moments, as they are.  A gift.  Not mine for the grabbing, for the holding on to.

But a gift.

When I hear about a loved one dying or imagine my children getting older or feel like time is being pulled out from under me, I start to feel all panicky inside.  I start to feel on the verge of losing everything, and wanting to hold on as tight as I can.  I do this, usually, by squeezing one to all of my children until they can barely breath and are forced to squirm stealthily from my arms.

But the truth is, I can't hold on tight enough.  And I don't think Kara is being so brave in telling a story so hard just to make me cling even tighter to what I already have.

I think, instead, she's showing us the beauty in letting go.  Even when it's not your choice.  Even when you want to hold on with every ounce of your being.

There's beauty in letting go.  In realizing these precious lives aren't ours for the keeping.  They're a sweet, sweet gift.  And like any gift, there are moments of intense appreciation and moments of unmistakeable ordinary.  We can't swallow these moments whole, even as much as we might want to.

And somehow, for me, there's relief in that knowledge.  There's rest in the loosening of my grip.  In appreciating the moments when they come and relaxing when they don't.

It's counterintuitive, that somehow I can enjoy these people, this life, even more when I stop forcing it so much.  When I'm open to these gifts, but not demanding of them.

I'll give them extra hugs and kisses today, of course, and I'll try to enjoy every moment.  But I'll enjoy it as a gift, not as something I'm owed.  Not as something that belongs to me.

It's a hard story, the one she's telling.  The one she's living.  Impossible, really.  And yet beautiful.  Impossibly beautiful.  And I'm so thankful she's allowing us to be part of it.

If you're the praying type, please join me in praying for the Tippets family.


  1. I also read her blog but hadn't seen the video yet.
    As soon as I finished reading your post, I rushed to watch the video.
    Saying goodbye forever to my littles? I can't even fathom. What pain and heartbreak.
    Thank you for sharing this and pointing us in the direction of thankfulness and blessing.
    Our families are treasures not to be taken for granted.

    1. Neither can I, Julie. Not even a little. What's really amazing is that she herself points to thankfulness and blessing, in the midst of suffering. Really, so many of her words have changed me. Glad to know you read her blog, too!

  2. The strength of others amazes me.