Struggling to find the joy 

Life, I have decided, is very much like a roller coaster. I vacillate between feeling the dread of upcoming dips, much as I used to fear the first big downhill rush of our local amusement park’s wooden ride nicknamed “The Nightmare”. The coaster would slowly crawl upwards, creaking and swaying, as it approached the crest crowned with a huge sign: “LAST WARNING: Do Not Stand Up, Sit Down!” (Yes, the sign was posted because someone lost their life doing just that.) 

So my current gut feeling is that slow crawl. I just know there is going to be a huge drop. An aunt died this week who lived in another state, and her funeral services are Saturday. But because my mother is having health issues and I am an only child, I am not comfortable leaving her here even for a day–Murphy has a heyday with my life. (And her maiden name was Thompson–so that corollary holds true as well for us. Murphy WAS an optimist.)

 A classmate and childhood friend died recently of colon cancer. He insisted on no funeral, wake, or anything sad. Instead, he wanted folks to have celebrations. So, in the towns where he lived and worked as a newspaper editor and publisher, they are planning celebrations this weekend. Our hometown cronies are planning one as well.  The one here will be attended by his two brothers who are still living and I expect there will be many in attendance. One of my cousins is emcee of this venture, having been asked by our friend to do this for him. A last hurrah if you will. 

But, there is joy. My aunt is reunited with my uncle, the love of her life, and with our Jesus. Even when she couldn’t voice her needs otherwise, she recognized both those names: Raymond and Jesus. So there is joy in that she is finally at peace and no longer struggling in a failing body. 

My friend Richard is no longer in pain. He had every right to complain bitterly as cancer insidiously ate away at his body. Instead he shared his journey publicly with humor and honesty. Our social media circle of friends mourn publicly, putting on brave faces but all the while missing his voice. It’s unnatural to be happy at such a loss. So for now I am going with the thought that his fight is finally over. 

As a Christian, I understand we are to be joyful because “we do not grieve as those without hope.” But as a human, my feelings are getting the better of me this season. I concentrate on being thankful for my current good health, my family’s love and concern, and the promise that faith will carry us through to the end of this wild ride. 

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