In addition to being the title of a favorite punk cd of mine, “Life Won’t Wait” by Rancid, (“Black Lung ” and “Crane Fist” being my two favorite songs thereof,) “Life Won’t Wait” is a pretty good motto for reality as it exists. No matter how much we may wish that we could put life on pause at times, it just keeps roaring past us. And like people trapped on foot in the middle of a freeway, it’s disorienting, terrifying, and sometimes lethal.
I feel like I’ve been in the middle of that freeway since the beginning of the year. These recurrent bouts of illness are messing with my plans in a big way– every few weeks, I am just DOWN. As in, I can barely force myself out of bed long enough to do the things I absolutely must do, and every moment is spent in agonizing pain. A week of medication usually beats it back into its hiding place, but it will be back. Sometimes within a couple weeks, sometimes in a couple months. Maddening.
In between, man, I can get some stuff done. Got my novel finally edited and published, started serious work on two other projects, read through a huge chunk of the world’s greatest literature, redecorated and renovated a big part of our home, sewed multiple outfits, put in two complete gardens started from seed, took the family on a major vacation, and homeschooled the kids.
Then I get sick and everything grinds to a halt for another week.
But life just doesn’t pause itself while I’m ill. This week, I am trying to help my son finish up his requirements to get into the college that he wants to go to, rushing here and there to get documentation and vaccinations and all kinds of stuff like that. Trying to get my handicapped daughter into a good day program now that she’s out of school and taking her to appointments. Trying to get a stupid broken filling fixed that I’ve been dealing with for two months now. And meanwhile, the weeds and the watermelon vines are taking over the garden, my herbs are a disaster, the kitchen is too dirty to cook in, the laundry is way behind, I have a half-finished dress still sitting with pins in it, and my closet looks like WWIII was fought inside it with Playmobil figurines.
It’s incredibly frustrating, especially as our whole lives are about to change dramatically. Two of our adult kids are going to be going to school, and at least one of them will be moving out of the house. Maybe two. We’ve got to do some more major renovations to the house, on very little budget, in order to make it ready to sell. We simply don’t need this particular kind of house anymore, the two-story five-bedroom and three-bath kind. The little boys quite happily share a single room (especially now after the renovation and the new loft bed addition.) Miss Autism needs her own room, but that only leaves us needing a three bedroom place. And downsizing to a smaller house could save us some money, so we could, you know, save money. That’s something families with 7 kids don’t usually get to do very often.
But life blazed on past and now four of our seven children are actually adults. One of those will never be independent, of course, but the other three are off on their own adventures. With a little more money, we could afford to hire a part-time caretaker for Miss Autism, which would give us a little more freedom to travel and camp. The little boys are growing up quickly, so we want to pack as much living into these next ten years as we can.
Life isn’t waiting. But I feel like I’m kind of trapped anyway. My bloodwork didn’t come back too good last time– I’d go so far as to say that my numbers went about as far in the opposite direction as they could have gone. So we’re trying a medication change, upping the dosage of my thyroid meds, to see if we can drive those numbers back down again. And, meanwhile, I wait. And take my pills and try to sneak in some of my iron tablets when they won’t interfere with the thyroid meds, because my anemia is back in force. It doesn’t make you too confident in your body, you know, when something else is going wrong every time you turn around.
But life isn’t waiting. And neither am I. I will get these things done, by hook or by crook. Even if I have to attack the watermelon vine with a machete and slosh a gallon of bleach all over the kitchen floor. And I’ll get other things done, too– I want to make a craft with the boys, I want to start exercising more, I want to try cooking some new meals because the old ones have grown so boring that no one wants to eat them anymore. The kids need their schoolwork restarted for fall and new books bought and studied. And I WILL do these things.
But, just in case it’s as difficult as I fear it will be, put in a good word with the guy upstairs, okay? Maybe for a little bit of grace, a little bit of healing, and a whole lot of faith. Because faith in God is the ultimate, and the necessary, but you’ve also got to have faith that you can actually DO the things that you’re asking to do. What good is it to ask for favors you don’t feel you can live up to? I just want to Do the Things.
In and of themselves, they’re probably not too important. My kids will certainly not die for a lack of a Victoria sponge cake to celebrate Sunday dinner. My marriage will undoubtedly survive even if our wedding anniversary is the same disaster it’s been for the past 25 years in an unbroken stretch of failures and random weirdnesses. My husband is a good man who will not mind overly much if we just buy him some boring present for his birthday and not, say, tickets to Aruba.
Life won’t wait. We’re all going to die sooner than we’d like. I just want to feel like I tried to make it count. Like it counted for something. Like I tried.