Everything happens for a reason. Everything is a lesson. Nothing is a disaster. Nothing is the end of the world. That’s what my mother taught me.

In the last 3 months my mother died unexpectedly, our family dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer, & I dislocated my knee cap on Christmas Eve resulting in crutches & a straight leg brace. While each of these events have tested my will, my faith, my optimism, none of them has knocked me out (even though any one probably should have). I don’t believe I’m any stronger than anyone else. I’m devastated. I have minutes, hours, days where I just want to scream. I want to rail against the unfairness of it all. I want to be bitter that I’ve been dealt all this at once. I cry. I breakdown. I wind up on the kitchen floor in the fetal position, now & again. But then, I have to get up. I can’t keep it up. I can’t sustain the tears, the sobbing, the depression. I just get tired. For me, it’s more exhausting to give in than to get up & try again.

I’m somewhat thankful that each event has come in the order it has. In the wake of my mother’s death, everything seems surmountable. If I can survive that, I can survive my dog’s cancer & 3-6 weeks on crutches. That’s not to say that each unpleasantry, upset, slight, or catastrophe doesn’t still sting and hurt; & that’s not to say that stupid things like car repairs, computer problems, or someone who doesn’t like my editing of their work don’t still matter. They do. They can be the difference between a good & bad day, just as much as whether or not my dog showed side effects from the chemo or I find myself missing my mother more than the day before.

I can’t minimize the problems & travails of others. These days, when friends complain to me about their lives, I can see the guilty look on their faces or hear the sudden hesitation in their voices; often they’ll apologize for going on. But I hate that. I remind them, their problems are just as bad as any of mine. Their problems affect them in the same way mine do me. Yes, the things I’ve endured in the last few months are dramatic; but just because someone else’s problem might be minor or temporary, for them, it is still dramatic and life altering. I can understand that. I would never minimize or discount their experience, because I know they would never do that to me.

I’ve survived the last three months, maybe from sheer force of will, or maybe because there is a reason, there is a lesson to be learned. I’m not justifying any of what has happened. I can’t let the universe off that easy. I’d much rather have my mother here and my dog well (I can deal with the crutches & leg brace, even if I am bored with being stuck at home!). But I have to believe that something will come out of this. Maybe it’s strength. Maybe it’s focus. Maybe it’s rededication. Maybe it’s revelation. Maybe it’s redirection. I don’t know yet.

For now, I choose to accept it all. It wasn’t my fault; I didn’t bring any of it on. God, or whoever, isn’t out to get me. It’s just the natural progression of my life. While I hate it, I can’t get wrapped up in it. This is just one moment in a lifetime. My mother would want me to find the lesson and move forward.  So while I’m still sorting through the debris & piecing it all together, that’s what I’ll do in this new year.

Image: lapstrake via flickr