I come from a family of adventurers – my parents once picked us up and moved us to Mexico with just a few weeks’ notice – so the thought of turning our lives on end was not scary to me. And the impetus was strong; I had known women with similar aggressive cancers who had lived only weeks or months after diagnosis. I feared that if we did not act immediately, my mother would be lacking essential pieces of her support structure as she faced her deadly foe. Though the move would bring some logistical concerns, including financial hiccups, we were ready to meet what challenges would come without hesitation.
What I did not realize at the time was that we were living an enormous life lesson during that period of upheaval. Many people have asked how our children adjusted to moving on such short notice. As I prepared to leave a job, friends and family that I loved, so, too, did the kids prepare to leave their schools, their friends, their family, and their home.
Right or wrong, my style of parenting includes brutal honesty, and they were fully informed of the gravity of the situation. Though the problem was complex, the answer was truly simple. Grandma was very sick and her life was in peril. She needed us, and they somehow understood that no matter what else we had going on, none of it was more important than giving what we could of ourselves to support her. This is not to say that there weren’t moments of grief for what was lost in the transition, but they never questioned why it must be so.
The lesson, I hope, is one about rising to the occasion. About doing what needs to be done, doing what is right, even though it may be uncomfortable. About being human. This lesson, of course, continued, evolved and grew exponentially as the next three years passed. During this time, we rode wave after wave of change and emotion. Excitement as we forged our new lives. Fear as we faced the unknown. Contentment as we breathed in the beauty and peace of our new environment at the foot of the Rockies. Hope when there was improvement in Mom’s condition, and bitter disappointment when there was a setback. Determination as we endeavored to experience life fully with Mom every day, and in turn, enriched our souls.
My amazing children stepped up to the plate big time. They rode the waves. There were tears, of course, and sometimes anger and acting out (and that wasn’t just me). But they bravely faced the reality of what was coming with incredible strength. One of these days, I will tell you all about just how hard things got at the end, but let me assure you, my kids were amazing. From small gestures to powerful shows of support, I could fill post after post with stories about how amazing they were.
But, back to the lessons. I hope what they really learned from all of this is that there is value in things that are really hard. Life doesn’t have to be easy and it can still be good. Maybe it’s not even supposed to be easy. We discovered marvelous things through the struggle, and learned how to feel the wonder of life.
I think that last part is something that they had a hand in teaching me. And we are still learning, of course.