When You Feel Like You’re Just Hanging On

It had been hanging by a thread for a while.

Silver filament too flimsy for such a pendulous weight. Mark had even warned me.

“Jen, are you sure this chain is strong enough?”

“It’s fine,” I said, sliding the round silver Courage pendant onto the silver chain.

This morning in the dark hours before full wakefulness, I had flipped and turned. Thoughts of our upcoming Vow Renewal flashed happy in my mind and I mentally made a list: tea light candles, a miniature amplifier to boost volume in my parents’ backyard.

Wide awake but trying not to be, I had switched to my stomach, stretching chest smooth and tall against the bed, and swinging right hand under my neck to sweep long hair up across the pillow.

And then just like that, my courage had fallen off and slipped away.

Mark stirred beside me.

“Mark, my necklace broke!”

“Oh no,” he murmured, voice husky and drowsy.

My courage had slipped away and fallen from sight, and the irony is not lost on me. My sweet silver-haired Dad on hospice has recently been coughing and breathing in shallower breaths, and thoughts of him inhaling and exhaling, and looking all grey and ashen are never far from my mind this week.

And did he lose weight in his face since I saw him two days ago? His temples gape empty and I pressed my fingers in them wonderingly yesterday, gently caressing his stubbly face.

“Je t’aime, Papa,” I had murmured then, brushing my fingers across his cheek and short hair, and leaning in for another hug.

I had kissed my mom goodbye as well, and driven home in a daze in evening rush hour. The sun sank orange and crimson behind Interstate 35, cars moving in stop and go patterns. A crashed car stacked up the left lane for miles, and a caravan of cars snaked careful through crushed glass and I prayed heavy for the people and police on the side on the road as I passed.

And then this morning in dark pale light, I swiped hair aside and tore the last filament of Courage from my neck. I find myself reaching unconsciously up to slide my finger in the silver ring’s center, ready to brush fingertips across the burnished edges and fading Courage font, and then stop when my neck is naked.

And perhaps it’s best this reminder now of where my courage lies. It’s not in a faded pendulous pendant on too flimsy filament.

And I hear it in my mind, and scramble to find the full verse and reference. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are committed to him,” and I grab it and trace the empty neck, and for today, this is enough.

Welcome! I’ve missed being here with you. Sorry. My Monday night college-level class that I’m teaching takes up much of my time, besides loving being a mom, wife, home schooling mom, and daughter to my dear family members. I think of you though, and am glad to be popping back in here today to greet you. How are you? How can I pray for you this week? (Feel free to comment here.) 

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  1. Bill (cycleguy) on October 19, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Good to hear from you again Jennifer. Wondered how you have been doing. How your dad was. I'm glad Courage is not found in a necklace but in the ONE who said, "Have courage. I have overcome the world."

  2. Helen on October 19, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    It is good to hear from you. I have been thinking of you and Mark and your parents a lot. Lots of time talking to Jesus about you all. Love spending time with John and watching the fine young man and husband he is becoming. Being encouraged by Morgan to not forget my passion for drawing as I watch her inspiration and smiling at stories of Daniel.

    Remember to rest in His peace and love, let Him give you strength and use His courage to make it through the day even if it is second by second.

  3. Cheryl Barker on October 23, 2017 at 5:15 am

    I'm so sorry, Jennifer, for all that your family is going through. You remain in my prayers!

  4. TC Avey on November 16, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    My heart goes out to you. My dad went to be with Jesus in 2008. I miss him dearly. But his lessons are still with me. I find he still teaches me as I reflect upon his life and my childhood.
    God was with me through my darkest hours. His light shone even when all hope seemed lost. And as the pain receded, I found strength in God. He is faithful. His love endures forever and though we go through valleys, He is with us. The joy of the Lord is our strength. I learned that "joy" isn't a feeling. It's truth. Truth in Him.
    I'll be praying for you and your family.
    God comfort you all.

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