We finally made plans to visit our youngest son in Los Angeles. Just before we were to leave for Los Angeles (and on my 50th birthday) our daughter made a trajic decision to drink and drive. I learned that morning that she had been in an accident. She was not injured but the motorcyclist she hit was very seriously injured and our daughter was in jail.
The night before, we had stayed up working on another project, a proposal for the Journey in Faith and Grace that eventually kept our parish open, but sadly involved the closure of others. While we were working on that, I picked up a message to call my sister-in-law, because her mother was in the hospital. The cancer had spread to her brain, and we needed to go there.
They were able to shrink the tumors and she went home. So we continued with our plans to travel. A few days before we were to leave, my husband's boss told him that he had to cancel his vacation and go to a company meeting. This meeting had been moved to a month earlier without notice. For 17 years he had worked 60+ hour weeks and denied himself vacations and almost all weekends. Our family had given up much, but he had had enough and said that he was taking this trip anyway.
The trip went well and we went to Disney Land and the World Science Fiction Convention (you'd have to know my husband to understand) and we went to the beach. We had a great time. Then, we went home.
I went camping with the Girl Scouts. It rained all weekend and everything we had with us was covered in mud. We got home late on Sunday. Monday we were back at work and the kids were in school when I got another one of those phone calls from my husband's sister. His mother was hemorrhaging and it could not be stopped. "Come now," she said. I closed my office, packed and picked up the kids at school. We got lost in the dark taking a "short cut" and my mother-in-law died before we arrived. My husband's anguished cries pierced the mountain quiet. The next week was an emotion-filled blur, ending with her funeral and a stop at my brother's for our Family Thanksgiving. We went from sadness to celebrating over night, but my husband wanted us to be with everyone else.
Just 14 days later our Buffalo world was blanketed in thick heavy snow. We did not lose power, but many did and my husband worked during daylight only selling batteries and flashlights. Then, he lost his job just a few days before Thanksgiving. I was very worried about him, because he lost both his mother and his job within six weeks.
I will never forget that year, 2006 changed my life. In some ways negatively, I lost the chance to make real peace with my mother-in-law and I experienced economic uncertainty for the first time in many years. It changed things for the better in many ways, we have both learned to seize opportunities to celebrate together, to make peace with our family, to treasure little things, to not put off our time together, to pray together, and to not let the secular world take over our lives (AKA a job.) We both began to do more with our families and the grandchildren who live with us. We also learned to prepare for our future and then to let God take over. Look again at all that snow. Is God telling YOU to slow down and to let him embrace you?