As many of you know, 2011 was probably the worst year of my life. As I was going over my daily planner in preparation for filing it away, I found myself mentally careening from one awful thing to the next. I thought about composing a sort of anti-Christmas letter for the New Year since I didn't send out Christmas cards, but it was just too depressing and negative to recall all the horrid events.
However, some of the lowlights included having the axle break on my car as I was driving it, Nefer destroying my laptop, my mother falling and breaking both legs, killing my beloved cat Hati by hitting her with my car, financial problems, illness, a second fall for mother, more financial problems and lack of free-lance work, visit to the ER with chest pains, house repair issues, the new laptop from January having its hard drive crash totally in November and finally to cap off the year, massive sewage problems over Christmas. Not to mention a few classic panic attacks in there...hence the visit to the ER.
This could just have been a series of unfortunate events a la Lemony Snicket, but there were so many this year wouldn't have been believable even as fiction. So I concluded that there must be some reason behind them all, something that I was attracting into my life and that God was permitting. In other words, I thought that the events might not all just be random, but there might actually be a purpose behind them.
As I reflected on my year, there were several times when I thought
that death would be preferable to going on. But deep down, I knew that
death really wasn't an option. Not only would it be incredibly selfish
and unfair to those who care about me to prematurely opt out of life, I
had a deadline for a book on facing adversity with grace.
How would it look if someone who was trying to encourage people that
suffering had meaning would give up on her own suffering. Very bad
form, indeed. (Incidentally, the amazon page has the first cover. The
new cover is much better and reflects the intent of the book much more
clearly.) So I trudged through the year, feeling a bit like Dave Berry, who thought that 2011 was the kind of year that makes an oil slick look good.
That's when the image of a burn unit sprang to mind. I know that in order for a burn victim to heal, the wounds must be painfully debrided, a process that is, apparently, among the most excruciating procedures in medicine. All the old, unhealthy tissue has to be cut, scraped or chemically removed in order for new, healthy tissue to grow. Even with heavy-duty narcotics, the pain is almost unbearable.
And the really hard part is that the tissue that must be removed isn't necessarily infected. However, its mere presence makes it harder for the body to fight infection and creates pockets where infection can develop. So all the tissue has to be removed in order for the person to recover. It is literally a case of going through the pain or dying.
So, in order to try to make sense of what happened to me, I'm doing what all words-people do: write about it. For the next few days, I'm going to talk about some of the things that happened and try to share whatever lesson I might have learned from it with you in the hopes that perhaps my journey might lend you some insight into whatever adversity you might be going through in your own lives. Beginning tomorrow...there's only so much visiting adversity that I can face in a day.
One last thing--last year I followed the sad case of Fr. Corapi with what probably bordered on prurient interest. I just learned via Patrick Madrid that The BlackSheepDog has vanished from cyberspace. With all the scandals the Catholic church has faced recently, I hope that this story has a happy and holy ending.