No swimming at the lake this year; 230 days away from home

So I’m seeing everyone’s photos of their summer vacation. Many people went to cottages and had opportunity to swim in a lake. Erinn and Cate were also able to get away a couple of times to cottage life which is great. I felt a twinge in my heart of thankfulness for them but jealousy for me.
For at least the past 10 years we as a family have been going to a camp to spend a week together. It has become a part of my annual rhythm of life to go there with other family friends, leave behind the day-to-day grind, enjoy being in nature, and relax. One of my favourite things to do there was to swim every afternoon in the lake. Something about floating around in lake water really does it for me (especially being able to pee guilt free in the water…) I think partially because it evens the playing field. When I’m in the water I don’t need to walk and I seem to be able to swim just fine. Like everyone else, I’m simply swimming around without the need of a mobility device.
Now for the past few years I’ve needed to get in the water in a very unique way. My friends and some of the camp staff would need to put me on the lifeguard rescue board, and carry me down a big hill to the water and plop me in. (I believe the plopping me in the lake became one of their favourite parts:) Then, after the swim, they’d have to come in the water, get me on the board, and haul me up the hill. (I wrote about it here. https://salvationist.ca/articles/2016/03/carry-me/)
This year however, I just couldn’t go. The place is not accessible. And as far as I can tell, there are no cottages that are accessible in the way that I currently need them to be. I need a hospital bed to sleep in. And I need help getting dressed, undressed, and in and out of bed.
I knew this time was coming, but it is still a huge loss for me now that it is finally here. It’s the very first summer that I’ve not had opportunity to go swimming in the lake.
And yes; it sucks!
Camp times just came and went, pictures flowed through my Facebook feed of people at the lake swimming, hot days of summer rolled by, and meanwhile each night I slept in my hospital bed in my temporary apartment in a foreign neighbourhood apart from my girls.
And to rub it in a little more, one of the new Facebook features lately is to remind you of what you did exactly one year ago. This year I was reminded of last year‘s camping fun, plus our trip to Newfoundland which included swimming at the lake as well as boating and cod fishing in The Atlantic.
Now I’m not sure how travel could work. I hope that I haven’t seen Newfoundland for the last time. If there’s any way possible for me to get back there to visit I will…
So I guess I’m grieving yet another loss. Living with MS has lead to fairly regular mourning over lost things in life. So finding ways to deal with grief and loss has been a bigger priority for me lately; especially this year as my health plummeted early on in January.
Thankfully, over the summer I read a book called ‘Praying our Goodbyes’. Quite frankly it felt providential to be reading it at this time. Every word seemed to be dripping with wisdom for such a time as this. There’s only four or five chapters of her thoughts before the rest of the book becomes actual prayers for different seasons of goodbye. She talks a lot about life being a series of goodbyes, but they not being the end of the story. She relates these goodbyes/hellos to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Goodbyes, as hard as they are, and they do need to be mourned and grieved, lead to new hellos that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

I’ve gone on too long yet again.
So I will end with one of her (Joyce Rupp) prayers that speaks deeply to me at this time. She is big on having images with us during a time of prayer. In this case and she suggests ripping a piece of paper into pieces and having that before us when we pray.

Jesus,
you were once broken apart.
You know how it feels to be so shattered by the brokenness of life. Help me to believe that I will one day experience wholeness again, that I will not have this terrible feeling of being torn into many pieces.
Keep reminding me often that the Father raised you to new life, to a powerful wholeness that you had not known before.
Encourage me to believe that, in time, I will no longer have this deep pain and hurt in my heart.
I want to believe.
Help my unbelief!
Amen

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