I won't lie, 2019 was a full year for me. What I mean is that it wasn't dull, life was in swing. I experienced events, if left to my own choosing, I would not have chosen to experience. I didn't like them at the time; they tried my faith, my character, and my integrity. Lessons were learned, blessings were counted, and experience was gained. I know we all have our trials and our challenges, but even from the greatest of struggles, unspeakable joy can still rise up.
Just to share my struggles and my joys, I'll tell you about 2019.
In January, my youngest son, who was fourteen at the time had to have collarbone surgery to repair a completely snapped and overlapping collarbone. It's not a "major" surgery, but let's be honest, any surgery happening to your child is more than major. He was to swim in a huge tournament that month. He missed it. But four weeks after his surgery, his high school swim coach gave him a pity entry into what was the last meet of the season. It was his first week back with clearance to begin swimming. I was just happy to watch him get back into the water. But then the unexpected happened. He was competitive and he missed his personal best time by fractions of a second. What was a pity entry became a ticket to the high school regionals. It's hard to explain the joy and the wonder that came out of these circumstances. But I'll take them.
Then, a few weeks later, after a frustrating year of jitters, stress and other oddities, my wife had surgery to remove her thyroid. Again, another surgery to someone I love. There really aren't enough words to capture the thoughts and feelings about these things. Anyway, the surgery went smooth - the doctor said it was pretty much easy peasy and there was nothing to be concerned about. A week later the pathology report came back and we found out my wife's thyroid had malignant tumors in it. We didn't know, the surgeon didn't know. It was an elective surgery my wife chose to have. And it may have saved her life. She's cancer-free.
Then in July, and I wrote about this earlier this year because writing is a way I process things, my oldest son sustained a head injury from cliff jumping in the Bahamas. I don't know that I've ever felt more helpless, well that's not true, I have. But let me tell you, it's a spot. That realization that there is nothing you can do except let go and give your heart, your hopes, your dreams, and your fears to God - there's a healing peace in that, but there is also the knowing that well, this sucks. I wouldn't wish the experience on any parent, or any child. The short story is my son is okay, my wife and I made it to the Bahamas and found our son with amnesia, from a concussion. Since that time his memory has returned, except for that one day he was injured. But in all the what-ifs, and what-could-bes, we all made it to the other side. Three weeks ago I watched my son perform the lead role in a school play. I wasn't watching my son at all, I witnessed an artist in his flow performing his love. It was amazing. Awe-inspiring. And with it came an exhale of ecstasy.
And last and perhaps least, I had my own misadventure in the Philippines. I also wrote about this. Being that sick, that far away from home, it was again another one of those things I would wish on no one. I do still believe I am a walking miracle. But more miraculous is the angels I met who lifted me, supported me and helped me make it home - unlikely messengers, unsuspecting souls, that strengthened me with kindness, encouragement, and no doubt prayers. While I'll never desire to be that sick again, I will always desire to know that kind of love forever. I am certain that is what got me home and it has shaped how I see everything.
There was more still to 2019, but these are some of the major highlights. Again, I know we all have our trials and issues, I'm not saying woe is me, I'm just sharing. Again, I write to process and understand. And this is what I'm processing: Even from the darkest and cloudiest of days, the clouds eventually fade away and the sun always shines. Beautiful things always come around after the rain.
If you're struggling with life right now, keep your head up. Beauty is coming. It always does.