The path I walk daily is familiar. My stride lands on well known ground. It’s the easy way, the calming, breezy way.
My path crosses another familiar trail. I always look to the right down the hilly terrain longing to step that way again but memories stop me.
It’s a harder path, taking more effort to walk the inclines but that’s not what stops me.
The way to the right is the path Bob and I always walked together. My companion and I encouraging each other along the way. Talking about the events of the day. Sorting through tough decisions. Some days joking and laughing as we walked. It was the route we took together for exercise.
We always enjoyed the scenery, the wild life near the creek and the beauty of our surroundings. When we got to the creek, he would stop to see what he could spot. He liked to watch for fish swimming near the surface of the water and turtles wandering close to the edge of the creek. He’d point out the beavers, ducks, swans and geese. I wanted to keep up our pace but he was full of wonder and it was contagious so we often lingered there before continuing our hike.
While out walking yesterday, when I came to that intersection I turned right. I started down the hill on the path we used to walk together but stopped halfway and turned back to the easy path. At the top of the hill, I looked back again. ‘It won’t be easy but you can do it,’ I encouraged myself. I tried again.
Pushing myself to conquer the first incline, I realized how out of condition I was for this path. But remembered, in years past, when winter gave way to spring it was always difficult on the first hike. As we continued to walk that path, it became easier and by fall we walked it with ease.
Yesterday I found it more physically difficult than my usual route but emotionally it was even harder.
Tears I tried to push back welled up in my eyes. I couldn’t help but feel a deep loneliness. I missed the company of the one who walked this familiar path with me for many years. Thinking back on the times we spent together on our walks, brought bittersweet memories to the surface.
I knew with each step I was walking toward wholeness so I continued on. Not letting the ache dictate what I can or cannot do, I leaned into all my emotions. I felt the feelings and let the reality of what was wash over me. Being present in it is ok. It’s the hard but healthy way. ‘I can’t let this undo me,’ are words I say often.
Even in the middle of the hard I experienced something good.
Finally after a late start to spring, everywhere I looked I saw pops of color.
Sadness and joy can coexist. I let both ebb and flow. First one and then the other.
When I returned home, I gave Bob his breathing treatment.
While he finished the treatment, I blended a smoothie for him. Smoothies seem to be a good and nutritious choice to increase his calories as his appetite decreases. I handed him the smoothie and he put the tv on.
We’ve been recording the second season of “Searching for Italy” with Stanley Tucci and we watched the 3rd episode. We always hoped to visit Italy someday so we are truly enjoying the scenery and culture of our ancestral land.
Bob hasn’t lost his wonder. He points out little details in the scenery that I sometimes miss in this series.
We still talk, discuss serious and not so serious situations, joke, laugh and pray together.
I’d like this all to be a little easier but there’s still good, growth and conditioning happening on this hard way…just like there is on the harder walking path. The conditioning is preparing me for all the other hard places that may come my way in the future. I can endure, push through with God’s grace, and not allow any of it to become my undoing.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4;13
What have you learned or grown from while traveling down a hard road?