We recently took what I would characterize as a “leisurely” vacation. A leisurely vacation is one in which you don’t really plan a lot of activities but just sit around on the porch smelling the pines and enjoying the cool mountain air or sit on a beach by the ocean watching the waves rolling in.
A leisurely vacation is one where you decompress from your life and get recharged to take it on again.
One of these days when the kids get a little older I’m going to take them to DisneyWorld. That’s another kind of vacation where you do as many activities as you can during the allotted vacation time, but you are exhausted when it’s over!
Then you have to get back to your life to decompress from your vacation!
Now the benefit of a leisurely vacation is that it gives you the opportunity to think and reflect back on your life. It’s like you’ve stepped out of your life for a few days and you’re looking back at it from a distance and you can view it more clearly and objectively.
In particular, it gave me an opportunity to realize one of the things that’s kept me from giving up or giving in over the last two years since we started this new adventure. It’s caused me to recall four words that my wife spoke to me before she died and how much they’ve impacted my life.
“You can do it!” she once told me.
Married couples often joke about what one could or would do if the other was gone. But when your spouse is lying on her death bed, it’s no longer a joking matter and certainly not a conversation you really want to have.
Deathbed conversations are surreal. It’s happening, but it’s really not happening, but it really is happening.
And now as I look back and remember, most of the deathbed conversations we had were enjoinders from her to me on how to carry on when she is gone. But, I usually cut these conversations short, denying that such a thing (her death) could possibly happen because God wouldn’t let it happen to us.
On one particular occasion, the conversation centered on what would happen to the children, who were babies at the time, one-and-a-half and three years old, if she was gone.
I remember that I declared to her my usual response to such conversations, denying that such a thing could really happen. “God wouldn’t give us this assignment to raise those babies if you were going to die,” I told her as I abruptly ended the conversation.
She let it go and didn’t push the conversation any further except to quietly remark: “You could do it.” She said it almost as an afterthought, casually, calmly, and nearly in a whisper. But there was a reassurance in her voice that she really believed it, or that she really wanted to believe that I could raise those toddlers alone.
At the time I shrugged off her attempt to encourage me as a conversation that would only discourage her from having the will to live.
But, as I began to look back over my life with the children for the last two years from the perspective provided by my leisurely vacation, I now realize how I’ve come to rely on those four words to keep going on this new adventure.
Words that at the time seemed so insignificant, so unimportant, so impossible to happen, have now taken on such significance and importance and have become the reality of my life.
And now I realize that over the last two years I have been replaying her almost whispered words loudly, over and over, in my mind:
“You can do it.”
“You can do it.”
“You can do it.”
But now what makes those words so meaningful is not that she said them to me, but that she believed them about me!
And, I believe she believed it.
So, if the one who really knew me, the one who recognized all my shortcomings, inconsistencies, weaknesses, and failings…
If the one who knew me best at my worst…
If the one who knew all my foibles could have the confidence that I could raise those kids alone, then surely I must be capable!
Surely, I can do it because she said I could, she believed I could!
Yes, I can do it!