Sunday, March 16, 2008

After the Storm

If you’ve kept up with the news this weekend then you obviously know those of us living in the southeast have already received a dose of the not-so-good side of spring weather. Some pretty severe storms moved through our area over the past 48 hours leaving a wake of significant damage particularly in Atlanta, about a 90-minute drive to our southeast. Here in the upstate of South Carolina we were “fortunate” to only get the thunder, lightening, and heavy rainfall but the threat of tornadoes did have us keeping one ear to the radio yesterday.

Looking out my office window this morning I’m viewing what looks to be a totally different world. The skies are clear, songbirds are singing, the Dogwoods and Bradford Pear Trees are in full bloom, and the lawn definitely needs mowing. This is the good side of spring. Warm weather and longer days have returned.

Such a drastic change in the weather made me think about how we compare days like yesterday to the difficult times in our lives. There are plenty of similarities between the two. The feeling of isolation, fear, facing the unknown, wondering if there will be damage to repair, and the thoughts of life out of our own control are all common during any kind of storm we face. One factor though that is quite unique between the two is the length of time those particular storms hang around.

Weather conditions change daily, sometimes hourly. Even a hurricane, the most frightening of all storms passes through within a couple hours. Most folks can for the most part begin the rebuilding process and get on with their lives in a short period of time. The storms of life are much more complicated. Those situations can last weeks, months, or even years. And yet, for the most part, the conclusions of each of them are once again the same. There is the morning after. The spring weather returns. The rhythm of life once again beats throughout our heart and soul.

You may think that I am leading up to a comment about living life with an exceptional child. While the metaphor is indeed an excellent one to use given our circumstances, I’m actually preparing to eulogize the mother of my closest friend on this planet other than Ben. Unfortunately Mary Louise Tierney only got the opportunity to meet Ben once. Given that she was like a second mom to me for most of my first two decades of life, she would’ve been an excellent fill-in grandma for my kids.

At the time of Ben’s birth Mrs. Tierney was already displaying pretty intense symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. Ben was around 10 months old when she was eventually placed in a nursing home. The last words spoken to any of her children occurred about a year later.

I have watched my friend Jonathan try to care for his mom the past 8 years in a similar way that many of the exceptional families we know care for their kids. And this is where it gets difficult because the storm doesn’t move on. It hovers about and lingers far beyond the length of time than is expected. Underneath the clouds of emotion are chaos, bitterness, depression, and ultimately anger. Jonathan watched his mother suffer for 8 long years. Evidently that was finally enough.

When I talked to him this morning he sounded exhausted but relieved. He shared with me what he thinks is a secret angry question that many of us have already asked and yet have received an answer. Why did God take so long? I don’t know my friend, I honestly don’t know. All I know is that this day was magnificent. It was a pleasure to be a part of and I’m looking forward to more of the same ahead.


we_be_toys said...

I so admire your wonderful philosophical side! I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for you to raise an exceptional child, but you help to give me insight into it. I am in awe of your seemingly unflappable certainty that everything happens for a reason. If that is so, Ben certainly ended up with the right people - because you guys are so full of love and light and hope, it inspires me from afar.
Thank you!

Nurse Betty L. Boop said...

Rest in Peace Mrs. Tierney. Virtual hugs and lots of real life prayers for the entire family and the many friends.

Only AMAZING families are blessed with EXCEPTIONAL kids...yours fits the ticket!