Thursday, June 22, 2017
A snapshot. A brief moment. Captured and held forever in print or in digital form. Etched into our memories, where we can remain young, happy, innocent, naive - the way we were before...
Before the diagnosis came.
Before the death of our closest loved one tore our world apart.
Before the loss of the job.
Before we heard the words, "I don't love you anymore."
Before the night we repeatedly said no, but he didn't listen and did it anyway.
Before the darkness came and tried to rip the very life right out of us.
We are told that youth is fleeting, and while that is certainly true, innocence is even more so. I look back at my life and my heart breaks for the innocence that was taken from me, piece by piece, time and time again. As I watch people I love face tragedies, as well as strangers I see on the news, I am overwhelmed by their stories and grieve for the innocence that is lost every day. When I see pictures of them prior to the horrific events, their unknowing, smiling faces, oblivious to what's coming, I feel contrasting emotions. I feel even more saddened in some ways because they have no idea what is ahead, but on the other hand, I am glad that they are, at least for that moment, holding on to that one last piece of innocence.
I look at this picture of me and my youngest child. It was taken in December 2011. Yes, we're both smiling, but this picture makes me sad. It reminds me of what I've lost. This is my tangible, slap-in-the-face from reality; it's a reminder that I can never go back to the way it was. This picture was taken during my "ignorance is bliss" season. My daughter was happy. She was making progress and meeting milestones, a bit slower than normal, but she was meeting them. Two months later, things would change drastically. She would begin self-harming, regressing, and crying almost non-stop. We, of course, took her to several doctors; we finally ended up at the neurologist's office, where we received the diagnosis. And, just like that, our world changed.
Looking back, a part of me is glad that I didn't know what was to come; yet, there is another part that wishes that I could have known. Maybe I would have been able to appreciate those "snapshot" moments more. Or maybe I would never have been able to enjoy the happy times because I would have dreaded what was to come. That I will never know, of course, because we can never know what lies ahead; we can only learn from yesterday and live in today.
While life is certainly more difficult now, and I struggle each day, I know that our daughter was placed on this earth and in our home for a reason. I still don't know what purposes may come to be for her eventually, as she is only nine years old and still has so much potential, but as for now, she is already teaching me about compassion, unconditional love, and...innocence. Yes, this precious little one will live in a state of perpetual innocence. Her significant mental insufficiency makes that so. She will never understand that she is different from her siblings, or that her mom has depression, or that another act of terrorism has been committed. She will never have to worry about paying bills, or meeting deadlines at work, or even driving a car. She is a living "snapshot" of innocence, and I am learning to see each moment through her eyes.
So, slow down. Stop for a minute. Take that moment you're given and allow it to speak to you. Learn something from everything that happens to you. Be grateful for what you have today; you don't know what tomorrow may hold. But, no matter what happens, you must be strong enough to allow the events of your life to shape you into who you were created to be. Hold on to God; don't allow bitterness to take root. Remember, even though we see only the snapshots, God sees the entire album, and He always did.
"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be." - Psalm 139: 13-16
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