A few weeks ago, my 3-year-old and I were having a conversation.
“But I just don’t know when I can go!” Mikah said, for the 3rd time.
“I know, Honey,” I told him, “That’s because you don’t understand time. It’s hard to know when something will happen when you don’t have any concept of time.”
I’d already explained (3 times) that he could go to the library in 2 days.
“But I just don’t know when!” he said emphatically. I tried to help him see (again) that he could go in a little while – I drew a picture with boxes representing days, and he calmed down and stopped repeating his question.
Whether or not he understood when that was, though, I still don’t know.
A few days after this incident, I found myself frustrated by a flare-up of illness. My body ached all over, I was battling intense headaches, I had some major complications with a few of my teeth, and I had a persistent cough that kept hanging on.
I just wanted to lie down and rest, but with a baby and 3-year-old, that was impossible.
I found myself wondering, “I don’t know when I’ll be free from these dips of illness!” Suddenly I could hear Mikah’s little voice echoing in my mind: “I just don’t know when!”
I took a step back, and using some of the “Mommy wisdom” I’d given to him then, I told myself,
“That’s ok. It’s hard to understand when you’ll be totally free from pain and dips in your health because you can’t see your whole life from beginning to end. There is a purpose in your life and everything you’re going through now, and someday, it’ll all make sense.”
I took a deep breath, and though I felt like repeating, “Yes, but I just don’t know when!” I instead focused really hard on the deeper truth I felt – that there really was a purpose in this, and that it would pass soon enough.
When pain and illness are a constant in our lives, it’s natural to ask that question – I don’t know when this will change! It really feels like it will go on forever. And sometimes it does go on for a long time – for weeks and months and even years.
But things change – sometimes it’s only our perspectives that change – and that makes it easier to deal with and to understand our circumstances.
There are times when I just want things to change, or go back to how they used to be before illness. and we don’t know when it will change
When I take a moment and look back, I’m so glad I’m where I am now. I don’t have the body or the life that I did 10 years ago – Lyme disease has forever changed me, in ways good and hard. But as I look back, I do know when it will change – because it already has.
I see life in such a deeper way than I used to. I cherish moments with my sweet little children – because there were many years when I longed for children but wasn’t healthy enough to have them.
I love to bask in the sunshine on a warm afternoon – because there were so many years that I spent indoors in a dark room, shut up with a migraine.
I breathe in the Spring air fully and notice the little buds poking up from the ground – because I remember the days when I didn’t even care what season it was.
I listen a moment longer when I’m talking with a friend – because there of the years that I couldn’t have anyone around because I was so sick.
I listen a moment longer when I’m talking with a friend – because of the years that I couldn’t have anyone around because I was too exhausted for company.
It’s my experiences that make my life so much richer and more meaningful than it used to be – back before I was ill. I had my health then, but I didn’t have the understanding I have now. Of course, I wouldn’t ever choose to be ill. But this is what my life is, so I seek out the beauty to get through all the questions.
And I can answer that question that I sometimes ask, “When will this change?” I know the answer. The when is now. My life already has changed.
As long as I focus on all I’ve gained, everything I’ve learned, and how my experiences have all brought me to where I am now, it’s enough.