Dear Reader: Warning, I’m in a bad mood. This is a grudge post. I don’t want to write it. I have to write it. I don’t know why but since God has this ricocheting around endlessly inside me, it’s either write it or go stark raving mad. Yeah, I know, that’s really freaking inspiring isn’t it? Well, I never promised inspiration. I promised honesty.
A lot has happened since my last post. “Come hell or high water, I’m celebrating 40!” And Hell said, “Challenge accepted, Sweetheart. Let’s dance!” 24 hours after I published that post, I got the call that my mom had fallen and broken her arm. That turned into a saga and I’ll spare you all the details. The Cliff’s Notes version is she needed a total reverse shoulder replacement because my dog yanked her off the back porch onto the pavement. Insert two weeks of hospital, doctors, and drama. She had surgery the week before I was scheduled to leave for four days of solitude on Cape Cod. The day she came home from the hospital, Eugene spiked 104 fever. In the end, it all worked out. Eugene’s second attempt at antibiotics worked. My ex took the dog for visitation along with the boys. My sisters took care of my mom. I had some time alone to recharge. I’d never been to the Cape before and when I came over the crest of the hill at Coast Guard Beach and saw the Atlantic for the first time in six years, I finally quit swearing at God. I soaked up as much sunshine and salt water as I possibly could. I came home to celebrate Holy Week, my birthday and an Easter Vigil that was absolutely on fire.
But that was a month ago. Life hasn’t slowed down any. Mom gets better every day but she still needs help with stuff and she doesn’t like to ask so I constantly try to anticipate what she needs. There are physical therapy visits twice a week and follow-up appointments with the doctors. My kids have had stuff going on, as kids always do. I’m exhausted all the time but instead of doing less, I’m doing more. It was only a matter of time and finally, the stress caught up with me. My RA flared up. Right now my body’s message is loud and clear: if it bends, it hurts. My eyes are acting up again. The headaches are back with a vengeance. The feeling of scraping the bottom of the barrel is there every day. I’m getting through my days, but just barely.
That’s when God decided to mess with me. That image of scraping bottom wouldn’t go away. In one of those 1:30 AM sit-bolt-upright-in-bed moments, I remembered the story of the widow with her flour and oil that never ran out. I really didn’t appreciate it since I was awake the rest of the night and if I’m awake, I hurt. But every day for last two weeks, that image keeps coming back me. I knew I’d heard it at Mass at some point but it had been months ago. I even remembered it in the lector’s voice. So this morning I finally threw up my hands. ‘Alright already God! I’ll find it. Just to get you off my case!’ So I Googled it and found the passage.
So Elijah asks the widow for bread. She was at the bottom of the jar of flour and the same with the oil. Why did she do what he asked? Fear? If I feed him, he’ll go away? Compliance? This is what women are supposed to do? Trust? Something about Elijah seemed safe? Some combination of the three? She didn’t starve to death. Neither did Elijah or her son. They never ran out. They got by until the rains came and the famine ended. It was a long time but how long? But was the flour jar ever full? Was it always scraping the last of it to get by, day after day after day? Was she confident that the flour and oil wouldn’t run out or did she go to sleep every night wondering if today’s bread would be the last? Elijah was sure of it but what about her?
Well, that’s all I’ve got. Wonderful. I have more questions than answers. ‘That’s very helpful. Thank you, Lord.’ Yes, I’m living proof that God doesn’t smite people for sarcasm.