the limits of control

Life sure has a way of getting heavy when you're not looking.

My mother-in-law is sick.  Yes, it's cancer; the same cancer from nearly fifteen years ago, only now with renewed vigour.  We've known for a month now - or is it three?  No matter.  My brain and my heart are still rejecting it.  Sure, we visit often, we pray, we cry, we bring smoothies and soup...
I'm not ready for this.

Her husband and sons are remarkably strong in all this.  I don't mean that "manly" act of hiding emotions, but actual  strength.  Maybe it's because they've been here before.  Either way, I long for their peace.  I am still flailing against it, desperately seeking something I can do. 

What strange things do you do when life relinquishes your power and control?  Usually, I take it out on my hair.  This time I've been taking it out on the apartment; first rearranging all the furniture, then when that didn't help, replacing it.  Craigslist has seen a lot of me lately.  Soon, I'll begin some refinishing, and then hang new things on the wall.  And then...

Denial, anger, redecorating, acceptance...that's how it goes, right?

Her name is Joy.

After her own mother-in-law died, a little nugget of Sanscrit wisdom was found 
scribbled in her well-worn bible:

Look to this day, for it is life...the very life of life.
For yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, 
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.

(this is exactly as it was written in her book - full version of the poem here)


  1. Oh, no. I am so sorry your family is going through this. Prayers for your mother in law, and prayers for peace for you, your husband, and the entire family. I'll be thinking about you.

    P.S. I think redecorating is fair way to cope when life gets heavy. :)

    1. Thanks Hilary. Congratulations on the Knitscene feature!

  2. I stress-clean. Total top to bottom, scrubbing-the-grout-between-the-tiles, crazy cleaning. It makes me feel like I'm in control, if only in my own home.

    Sending positive thoughts your way, and to your mother-in-law and extended family.

    1. The stress-clean is a great one! Thank you.

  3. Oh no Jennifer, enormous hugs from a long, long way away. That poem is probably the most beautiful thing I've ever read! It is such an empowering and life affirming piece. The fact that it gave your mother-in-law strength at exactly the same moment in life, makes it all the more inspiring and beautiful. Look after everyone, those that seem strong and at peace are often rearranging their house on the inside and it's not a good thing. I'll be thinking of you. Please write to me (annikawall@iinet.net.au)if you'd like to vent, scream, say really bad things that need validation but not judgement.
    Love Annika