And Yet

Martha - Tulsa, Oklahoma
Entered on September 18, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: hope, setbacks

I believe in the power of “and yet”.

It’s complicated, this life. Heartache and triumph nestle close together – sometimes almost cruelly so. Snatching hold of hope can seem ridiculous, as physically impossible as keeping your own mouth closed while spoon-feeding a baby. And yet, right smack dab in the middle of anguish, there sits joy.

When I was a kid, a blood disease kept me homebound for five years. Except for brief nightmarish forays back to a grade school whose pecking order had long left me behind, I stayed in bed and a tutor came to me. And yet, this compact world of bedroom, house, and family opened onto its own shimmering horizon. Pain lived there, it’s true, but so did possibility. I was lifted beyond the borders of illness by the fierce love of my parents and my sister, by the enchantment of books, by the endless West Texas sky.

As every citizen of this ragged land does, I’ve braced myself for the suffering in store: a social pecking order that seems equally inscrutable even now, surgery that doesn’t work, vows that aren’t honored, faith slamming head on into the wall of doubt – and yet the harbor of hope endures. Injustice prevails once, twice, ten times – and yet my sister buckles on her shield and chooses to trust, always. Sorrow can seem inescapable, and yet I’ve witnessed a husband raised in poverty achieve a master’s degree, watched him nurture goodness even though little was shown him. I’ve seen my feisty, beloved mother, a woman of valor, grapple with an agonizing life, an agonizing death – and yet ten years later the fire of her spirit still blazes.

After my mother’s burial, we piled into the funeral home’s limousine. My small nieces, marveling at this mode of transportation, squealed, “It’s just like going to the prom!” Both expressed relief that their older brother, a pallbearer, hadn’t “dropped Gramma”. Even at the time, stunned with the grief of our new Mama-less reality, I could picture how this must have tickled Heaven. Here we were, steeped in the surreal trappings of loss, and yet God had given this moment to all of us – even to the impassive driver now striving mightily to keep a straight face. For the girls, there was the treat of a chauffeured ride in a shiny white Cadillac; for the adults, the realization that there truly is sweetness in our bittersweet journey.

These lives we are granted, the ones we lay out so painstakingly, never cease to amaze, to reorder themselves in startling new ways, to break our hearts, and then astonish us with undreamt-of possibility. Life is rich, life is a struggle, life is devastating – and yet. And yet.