Through the Valley of the Shadow
Psalms 23 has always been my comfort when I needed respite from the hardships of life and chronic illness. My mother used to read that Bible passage to me as a child, and now it has become a cornerstone of my faith.
Today, I find myself in the valley of darkness, desolate and suffering in body and mind. My beautiful mother transitioned in September, and her loss has catapulted me into an existence of profound despair. Although I know who holds my tomorrow, and I am confident I will see her again, my inner child feels lost without her mommy.
The woman I am yearns for the unconditional love, friendship, and affection of my hero. I am certain this feeling will accompany me for the remainder of my life. In the flesh, I feel forsaken. In my soul, I know that God is ever-present.
The intent of this week’s column is to encourage. It is to fortify the spirits of those who feel abandoned and downtrodden. It is a call to action to never surrender hope.
This year has been filled with tears, longing, woe, frustration, and many questions. Equally true is the clarity I’ve gained regarding matters of life, death, and legacy. The coronavirus has reminded the entire nation of the fragility of life and how a situation can change at any moment. We have learned to cherish our loved ones and not to sweat the small stuff. We discovered how deeply interconnected we are in this life, and how most of us are one circumstance away from a different existence. For these lessons, I am grateful.
My mother was a courageous, gracious woman who held on to hope until the very end. As I think of what a blessing it was to witness this, I am thankful for the time I had with her. I am appreciative that I had the opportunity to be loved by such a phenomenal woman and reared under her tutelage.
Each time I recount my story of life and chronic illness, I pay homage to my parents. I reconcile that even in my mother’s physical absence, her legacy and teachings endure. Where there is life, there is always hope. My mother personified this attribute. When her condition appeared grim, she never lost her faith or praise. I inherited this trait.
These months have been emotionally, spiritually, and physically burdensome. My fortitude and faith have been tested. There are moments when I am ready to concede, yet I don’t. I remain true to the core of resilience.
My multiple sclerosis symptoms rage, similar to how my life feels at this time, still I remain hopeful. I believe that better days are ahead. I believe that one day I will see a cure for MS. I anticipate that my experiences will minister to others and I, like my mother, will be an agent for change.
There are life occurrences that we cannot fully prepare for. I learn this every day. I also know that loss is devastating, time is valuable, and our lives have meaning. Gratitude and grief can coexist. My mother’s voice whispers in the corners of my mind, telling me to hold on. I will take the time I need to process this monumental loss and find a way to share our timeless story.
In closing, 2020 has brought us through troubling valleys and shadows of the unknown, yet we are alive. May the memories of those we lost comfort us as we grieve the physical separation and inspire us to carry on their legacy. May we remember the fragile, fleeting gift of life and honor it in our living. Hope is eternal, and so is love.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. … Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalms 23:4,6
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