Awakened some time in the early hours of the morning, I listened as the thunder rumbled angrily and the rain pounded down. I struggled to come fully awake so I could take the necessary actions. The bed was nice and warm, sleep did not want to release me, but I had to get up. I had to go check the drain that runs under the house and make sure it was clear. I could not risk the dogs having filled with with debris causing it to back up and flood the room above it as it had done once before.
Finally overcoming the struggle,I pushed myself out of bed and hurried through the house leaving Bella crying at being left behind. Listening to the storm sounding all around me, I opened the front door, turned on the lights and stepped outside. Dodging the areas of water on the porch I hurried to the drain and checked for dirt, sticks and leaves. Finding it clear, and the water flowing as it should, I hurried back inside. The storm was just beginning, it was going to get worse and I didn’t want to be outside when that happened.
Going back to bed I listened to the storm. I have never been a fan of severe storms. When Hurricane Hugo came through here in 1989, that dislike only intensified. I must have dozed off, but was awakened by the sound of my son’s bedroom door opening. I listened as he went through the same routine that I had earlier. As it did for me, it only took him a few moments to make sure the drain was clear and doing its job, then he returned inside.
We have both stood out on that porch, that sits just inches off the ground, sweeping flooding water off and into the drain. Several times in the early morning hours, lightening popping around us as we swept water. Fighting to keep the drain pipe clear as the water swirled around it, fighting for its turn to flow down and out behind the house. Freed from the confinement of the front yard. A front yard that has a downward slope to the house. A house that is not large, but long. Holding water back from its desired path down the hill and away.
After one really rough storm, I gathered cement blocks and built a wall. It was definitely not house and garden beautiful, but it did its job. It diverted the flood of water away from the front of the house.
One of our mountaintops. Making our way through a valley of fighting flood waters from storms. Being able to stand and look out, knowing at least for now, that battle is won.
While I know that we prefer to be told that if we do this, that, or some other thing, life will move along smooth and wonderfully. There are some really talented speakers out there who can motivate you to believe that life is meant to be an amazing, calm, smooth, journey and that we should not have to worry about bad times. Well, they are wrong.
Hear me out, here. I’m not saying life should be some miserable existence where nothing good happens. I’m saying, we need the bad times, we need the storms and the valleys, so when we reach those mountain tops, we can look out and really enjoy the moment. Appreciating it all the more for the struggle to get there.
Today should have been mine and my husband’s thirty-sixth wedding anniversary. It isn’t though because he died almost four years ago. The journey since that time, has not been easy. I have felt as if I were walking barefoot along a trail that no one had ever walked before. And they hadn’t. This was my trail, my path to take.
I had to make my personal way from the darkness of losing him, to the top of that mountain of peace with his death. To the point where I could see the light and the view of what lay ahead of me.
Along that path were struggles. Fighting the depression. Fording the rivers of loneliness. Struggling the the darkness of despair. Making my way through the rocky places of stress, fear, anger. There would be moments when I would reach the top of a knoll and rest, knowing I was making progress. I would reach the crest of a hill, and standing on a ridge, be able to look back and see my progress. Looking ahead though, showed me how far I had yet to go.
I’m sitting here now, with my ever present cup of coffee, looking out my windows at a rain soaked yard. The sky still over cast with clouds heavy with rain. It seems fitting in a sense.
Fitting that I would be mourning the loss of what could have been. Today though, the sadness has become acceptance. I know where he is. I know that now he is healthy, happy and struggling no longer from all the physical ailments he had battled here. I believe, I have reached one of the mountain tops along this mountain range of life. I can stand here and look out over the vista before me, seeing some of what awaits me on this journey.
We will all have our moments to face. There are going to be bad times. It is life, it is a given. Life is not meant to be smooth sailing and worry free. We do not grow that way. Our strength, our knowledge, our compassion does not increase when all goes perfectly well and fine.
We are like steel, forged in the fires of this life to become the strongest sword.
We are the diamond, formed under pressure.
We are the precious metal, purified by the fires.
We are the air, cleared after the rain.
When we go through a storm, we learn. We learn how the struggle feels, we learn how to handle the winds that buffet us, trying to slow or even prevent our ascent. When we reach that mountain top and can take a breath, the understanding of what we have battled and beaten is strong. We can then, look back to others struggling and offer a hand up. A moment of encouragement and understanding. We cannot walk the journey of others, but we can be a guiding light along the way.
We can stand on our mountaintop, our light of accomplishment glowing. Not in arrogance, but in the peace of understanding what it took to get there. In acceptance that this struggle, was not the last. There will be more.
Along the way, we may look for the light of others who have traveled a similar path, who have made their mountaintop and proven, once again, it can be done.
Today, I wish for you, a new mountaintop where you can look out and see the beauty before you, and rest for a moment. Enjoying the view, the peace, the accomplishment.