There we sat, all seventeen of us on this special occasion. The after church meal devoured and the cake and ice cream just dished up. My thin slice of chocolate tiramisu contrasted the thin coffee tiramisu, and both teetered on my lap as I found a spot on the love seat with my sister-in-law. Everyone else clamored into our makeshift circle of armchairs, couches, and folding chairs.
It was time for our family birthday tradition and I sat nervously shifting under the love “embrace” that, at this particular moment, was deeply permeating my bones. The tradition being, that after the singing of Happy Birthday everyone in the room tells the birthday girl (or boy) what they appreciate about them. Afterwards, the birthday girl passes on some wisdom that she has learned in the past year.
But I have run a little ahead. Some background information on how this forty-seventh birthday celebration of mine came to pass might interest you.
You see, a month earlier I had sent out an email to my “nearest and dearest” list. I invited them to my very own “surprise” birthday party and suggested we hold it at my sister’s house (a central location). Everyone agreed. These emails were the beginning of the medicine administered for my physical and spiritual healing.
Loneliness is simply not healthy. And I’d been feeling particularly lonely for my family and friends having recently moved to a distant town where family could not be found, and friends were still few and far between. Add to this the viral infection that invaded my bones and zapped my strength for what seemed like months during this winter of my discontent. Something had to be done and my looming February 23rd birthday seemed the perfect antidote.
Bless my siblings, their families, my son, his wife, and a few good friends who seemed to positively jump at the idea. Perhaps their winter needed some pick me up as well.
Just the planning of this not- so- secret event actually gave me the boost I needed to get out of bed and out of doors on occasion. The hacking cough, fatigue, aches, pains, and slight depression seemed not so daunting and I was sure that I’d be fully recovered at the anticipated gathering.
Well the virus was a nasty one and, though I’d experienced some improvement, was still hanging on when the party date finally arrived. But for my husband’s kindness and gentle care, I’m not sure I could have survived the severe onslaught of viral pneumonia followed a few months later by viral bronchitis that finally moved upwards into acute sinitus. He truly went above and beyond: doing all of the cooking, cleaning, and shopping, not to mention his amazingly patient attitude up against my grumpy one.
And now, here we were three women all related and battling the exact same thing on this Sunday morning gathering. Yes, that’s right. Turns out my sister and my sister-in-law were fighting the same winter warrior with the courage of front line soldiers. Interestingly enough, my twenty-four year old daughter who was at college 2500 miles away, also displayed the same symptoms as her female relatives to the “T.” Go figure.
But this was our day. This was our respite in the storm. We three ladies swapped horror stories of phlegm, fatigue and fever. Oh it was GOOD to be home!
I’m a fairly independent woman it’s true. Sure, I love my family, but the realities of life have moved me, like most of us, into stoic self-sufficiency and self reliance. But not this day. Not this month. Not this winter.
Though, if only in spirit, I could feel my sister-in -law falling into my arms and I into hers. I saw my sister cradle us both as we held her up in return (metaphorically speaking).
Add to that, the comfort that always is my brother Matt; the joy that is my nieces and nephews; the easiness of my brother in law’s hospitality; the thrill that is my son and his wife; the kindness of a few good friends, and you have the perfect recipe for complete healing. That’s just how it works. It’s a God thing. Love is a force capable of manifesting miracles.
The words of kindness as the first participant started the traditional, “I appreciate Kathleen because…” spoke health to my bones. But after hearing that sixteen different times and in sixteen generous variations, the lame have jumped up and walked, the blind have regained total sightedness, and the dead are awake and walking around!
My daughter and her husband heaped on more healing in the form of doorbells ringing bringing daises and roses, and precious written words of love.
In the days that followed, my health took a distinct turn for the better as I climbed out of darkness into marvelous light. Let me say it again: Love is a force capable of manifesting miracles. We should not be afraid to ask for some every now and then. We should not be afraid to admit we need a shot of love.