Thin & Thick and the importance of asking 'Are you okay?'
Thin and thick, pain and healing, breaking and growing, living and learning.
Lately I have been doing a lot of ‘growing up’ or to use fancy technical jargon ‘life transitioning’. To give a little bit of background on where I’m coming from, you’ll need to rewind with me a good 5 years to when I was living in my home state, busy with finishing high school, working and serving at my local church, all while trying my very hardest NOT to be totally boy obsessed. I was a ‘normal’ teenage girl.
Things drastically changed for me 2 months out of school. My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. We treated the diagnosis fairly casually as they had found it pretty quickly and mum was immediately scheduled for treatment and surgery. My parents and the doctors were acting pretty positive so I didn’t dedicate that much time to the thought of ‘if’. We carried on as normal as we could that year.
Around about the October we found out that mum had a good chance of entering remission. We were thrilled. What had been this huge, heavy dark cloud shadowing our world had started to clear- finally some sunshine! Or so we thought. Pretty much straight after this message, mum’s health dramatically declined. It was a scary time and I won’t write about it. Not because I haven’t dealt with it, but because I carried the clarity and weight of those photographic memories around for so long and I have finally found peace. I don’t want to pick at something that has finally found healing. After 2 months of a painful hospital journey, my beautiful mother made her move from life here on earth to her new home in eternity.
I think my family was in shock for a good year. We all stumbled around with watery eyes and heavy hearts. Most of us kids made a series of rash and emotional decisions; I know I for one did a great deal of damage to another person during this time. We all handled the situation differently. No one can say what was right or wrong, we don’t often talk about that year as a family. We all know what losing her was like to each of us, we all seemed to move to individual islands. 2 years on the dust seemed to settle and we were moving. 4 years on and life is so different. During the time since mum has been gone, I moved cities and states, my brothers and sisters have married, had children and travelled, and I met and married my husband. That time is a world away. Life was thin for a long time. I was unhealthy and isolated. Now life is thick, healthy and rich. Life is still heavy, but in a comforting way, it’s heavy with love and responsibility not with loss and despair.
I guess the point of all my ramblings is that life changes. It doesn’t stay one way; it’s never one season for ever. When a bone breaks, with time and the proper attention it resets and heals. Part of being alive is experiencing pain; it reminds us we are alive. We care, we hurt- we just have to make sure that we heal. We need to make sure we eventually swim off the island we’ve been camping on. During that crazy time in my life, where I felt so alone and isolated, I can say that I did have friends. I had amazing steadfast friends, friends that called and visited and asked. Even with that I still felt alone. After a while I realised I was choosing to sit on my island. I liked my isolation, because I wasn’t responsible for anything. Issues I had prior to my mum passing away resurfaced, and with all this time on my hands I began to accept them back into my mind and heart. I now had a reason to sit on the sidelines and not get in the game. I let my loss and emotional injury keep my healing at bay. Thank God for friends, friends who stick by through thin and thick. They call you out on things when you can’t see the forest for the trees. Now almost 5 years on I feel truly alive. It’s taken me a long time to say I’m healed, but I can confidently say that now.
I’ve been healed.
I’m not sitting alone on an island anymore. Now I’m in a place where I can swim out to other people’s islands and visit and ask the question they’re dying to hear ‘Are you okay?’
In summing all this up I want to ask a few questions; what’s your island? What’s keeping you living life ‘thin’? What experience and pain are you allowing to eat at your health and happiness? And secondly to those reading this, thinking of someone else sitting out there on an island- yes they might have put themselves there due to their actions, or they might be there due to fear or loss.
Swim out, don’t think about it twice. You don’t have to have all the answers, you don’t have to fix their problems or bring back what was lost. They won’t put the responsibility on you; they will just be glad you came and asked the questions everyone else was scared too. If you’re my friend reading this, all I can say is thankyou, thankyou, thankyou; because you swam out and asked, my life if rich.