When I was in my twenties, a co-worker in her thirties once told me that life doesn’t get any easier. “It only gets more complicated as you go along,” she said.
Barbara was raising a son on her own, and she didn’t have the level of education that I had. But she did have more work experience and more life experience. Her pessimistic words of warning didn’t go over well with with my youthful optimism. But for some reason, I never forgot them.
A few years later, due to a variety of reasons and circumstances, my husband and I suffered a devastating financial crisis. Some people offered sympathy, many judged us, and no one helped. Life had gotten a whole lot more complicated. With two young children at home, somehow we dug our way out over a period of years, on our own.
Then, we thought we were done with (major) complications. But we were wrong. Twice more, we faced unexpected and unpredictable upheavals – “issues” isn’t a strong enough word to describe them. Life was more complicated than we ever imagined it could be. We stayed together and leaned on each other both times, sometimes joking nostalgically about our first crisis and wishing we could swap the current one for it. After all, that time it was “only money.”
Our last crisis was a health one, and was by far the most serious and most frightening. Our entire world changed in one day, and we did the best we could to help our 19-year-old son survive brain cancer. For a period of six months, we lived on hope itself. After that – once he was cancer-free – we relaxed slowly and steadily over time. That son, the third of our four children, is healthy and thriving today.
Life is still, and more, complicated today. Other issues have surfaced and we are trying to deal with them as a couple and as a family. But when things seem insurmountable and scary, I think back to five years ago, and I know that somehow, we will get through whatever we have to face.
Last year, I wrote the story of my emotional struggle as our son battled cancer. It’s a work of creative nonfiction, a true story based on my memories (and tons of records I kept). Titled ALL THE ABOVE, the tentative release date is March 31, 2015, and the pre-release cover reveal will be in an upcoming post.* I wrote it because I couldn’t not write it – and because I hope that reading about my experience as a mom and caregiver will help others who are facing a crisis that is way beyond complicated.
Because when you think about it, a complicated life is still life. And life is a very hopeful and wonderful thing.
* A portion of that cover is below