October 31, 2010

Such times

Daniel and I frequently re-watch movies (we have limited access to English-speaking entertainment).  This weekend, we have been plowing our way through the extended box set of The Lord of The Rings - again.  This time, a quote from Gandalf hit me like an elvish arrow to the heart: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
The thing is, that just about sums it all up.  Frodo didn't ask for the ring, but he was the only one who could carry it, and so carry it, he did.  My sister-in-law and her husband did not ask for a daughter with severe health problems, but she is their daughter, and so they continue to live in a retro hotel room, in a city that is not their own, spending their days and nights in a hospital that sees more tears than a funeral parlor.  I'm sure they are frequently asked things like, "How do you do it, day after day?  How does your mother, who is in her sixties, keep up?  How do you keep going in a constant state of weariness, concern, uncertainty, and overwhelming love, all mixed together, when you have not been comfortably in your own home since July, or comfortable at all, for that matter?"  I'm sure that my heroin of a sister-in-law just smiles at them, undoubtedly sometimes through gritted teeth, but always with compassion, and says something like, "We don't do it because we have to, as you might think I would say.  We do it because we want to.  We have decided to.  We can't decide much of anything in this life, we know that now.  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
And so, I will get out of bed before I am rested enough to do so, and I will walk down the hallway to retrieve the three-year-old who is hollering, "Sarah, it's 7:00!" (Zion has taken to calling me "Sarah" in the mornings), and I will put aside any thoughts of a time when my life was my own, and my days were like a blank canvas.  I will pull three sippy-cups down from the cabinet, filling them half-way with juice and half-way with water, and I will repent silently for ever wishing, even for a moment, that I was anywhere but here, with Daniel and Bright and Zion and Brave, in East Asia, freezing my aching feet off.  The ring has to be carried, regardless.  The diaper has to be changed.  Dinner has to be made.  Someone has to get the toy out of the toilet.  All that I have to decide is whether I am going to carry it grimly, wishing for this leg of my journey to pass, or whether I am going to carry it willingly, gratefully, and with honor.  That is the only choice any of us really have.