Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Lost Year; A Year of Losses

When I was a child a Billy Wilder film won the Academy Award. It was "The Lost Weekend". I didn't see it during the first screenings. I was only four years old. I saw it years later, probably on TV and it became a favorite that I viewed several times over. I even read the novel it was based upon. The autobiographical novel was written by Charles R. Jackson.

For those not familiar with the story it concerns a young alcoholic writer's five-day drinking binge. During this period he descends lower and lower into the gutter, hocking his typewriter for booze money and ending up in the DT ward of Bellevue.

My lost year was nothing quite like that and certainly had nothing to do with alcohol. It mostly came about by events beyond my control.

'Twenty-twelve was bad from the get-go. I had become dissatisfied with the direction my church was going and left it a few months earlier and the job I had at the end of 2011 left me. Thus I began the year unemployed and somewhat adrift spiritually. I am a Christian, a true believer in the salvation of Jesus and the truth of the Bible, but when disconnected from a body of brothers and sisters in Christ tends to drift backward into my sins. I began the year already with a sense of lost...and with a feeling of nausea.

I was sick most of January. I hadn't been really ill in years, couldn't remember the last time. It must have been back in the days I worked at Wilmington Trust, back in the last millennium. But I began 2012 sick.  It went away after a week, took a little Carrabean cruise or something, then by late February returned to make me sick again twice over.

Not long into the first month of the year I also lost my ability to take the long walks that generally began my days. These are times of reflection as well as physical exercise. I can get away into the quite of our many parks and clear my mind. But one morning early on I awoke with a grapefruit in my left knee or what appeared to be some sort of bulbous melon.

It really hurt with one of those pains that doesn't go away no matter what you do. Lying down, standing up or sitting, the knee throbbed away. I could barely hobble about the house upon it and driving a car was pure agony. I couldn't ben tie my own shoes.  I certainly wasn't going to be hiking up any rocky trails in the Piedmont.

As we shuffled moaning into the drear days of February the grapefruit began to deflate. Healing came slowly, but came. My knees began to match each other, ugly twins indeed, but neither bloated or painful. But my ankle was.

As if he had been displaced by bursitis, angry man Author Itis returned taking vengeance upon my ankles. I still could not walk. I had to bear a few more weeks of agony, but by the Ides of March I too was marching forth with something of my normal gate. It seemed I was about to resume the life I had become use to living.

Then on the first Wednesday of April the phone rang at about 9:00 AM and my way of life simply disappeared. Caller ID id'd my parents number. They never called me this early in the day. My first thought was, "dad died". It was going to be the call I had anticipated for the last couple of years, but when I answered it was my dad's gravelly voice that answered back.

"Your mother's had a stroke. I want you ta come up here." (Pictured left, my dad and mom on one of the last days of their lives.)

Thus began a seven month period where I disappeared into handling my parent's affairs, seeking a nursing home that could care for them both, dealing with the slow moving government agencies and then with the deaths of first my mother and then my dad with a two week period.

By that point my wife's own health was a concern, our financial situation was deteriorating and two of my favorite cats also died. I also lost my Blog domain names.

I lost the Blog domains because Wilmington Trust had been taken over by another bank, which issued all new cards. My old Wilmington Trust MasterCard became this bank's Visa. My domain names meanwhile came up for renewal in mid-summer and dealing as I was as my parents now, I forgot to revise my automatic payment info. The Domain licenser's payment request was denied against my old now invalid card.

I did not find this out until months later, of course, because I had stopped writing. I am hoping I have reached a point I can write again.

This has become a lost year in a way and a year of many losses. But in the midst of all this pain and turmoil I found prayers answered and assurance that God was always nearby. I found a new church and a new spirit. I learned that what we cling to so tightly in this world can very daily slip away. I saw how material possessions disappear in the wink of an eye as I had to dispose of my parents belonging to meet the requirements of Medicaid. When the died all that was left were a few boxes of clothing, which I donated to Goodwill.

I saw this lesson again this December as I joined the Disaster Relief Team at my new church and spent weekends doing mud-outs in homes flooded during Hurricane Sandy. All the possessions of the owners ruined and stacked haphazardly on the sidewalk for trash pickup. The houses empty shells.

You sometimes suffer in this world and you can easily slip into self-pity, then you step out into the places where others have suffered even more and you understand why we must lend a hand to our neighbor.

This was a lost year and a year of losses for many, but as for me, I know even more that God has my back and God can lift me up.

PSALM 116: VERSES 1-8 (KJV) 
I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.

Because He has inclined His ear to me,

Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
 Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”
 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
 The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
 Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
 For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.

1 comment:

  1. And you thought retirement would going to be a breeze. It ain't over yet my friend.