When you’re in the midst of something absolutely dreadful, a lot of people will tell you that God will not give you more than you can handle in a day. I used to listen and nod, maybe even believing them on some level. I’ve thought a lot about this theory over the past few years and I’ve come up with the following conclusion: BULLSHIT. When, on May 14th 2006, I spent my first Mother’s Day alone with my 19-day old baby girl, it was more than I could handle. Two days prior, my husband and I had gotten married. Our new daughter, Averi, had worn a garland of baby roses as we exchanged vows and wedding bands. Hours later, we were awoken by the news that my dad had been in a car accident and wasn’t expected to survive the night. My husband had to leave to start his new job, three hours away. My mom and my sister flew to be with my dad. I was left with my brand new baby girl and a world of sorrow. It was more than I could handle. On June 9th 2010, I went to Swedish Hospital for a second opinion on my unborn baby’s condition. I had hope, prayer and a Tarot card reading on my side. I left three hours later with a cervical dilation underway, directions on how to check-in to the hospital in order to deliver my deceased baby, and a business card in my pocket for a “Perinatal Social Worker.” It was more than I could handle.
Maybe it’s an issue of semantics. If, by “handle,” you simply mean to say that we can physically survive the day and live to see another, well, I suppose I did alright. If, by “handle,” you mean to say that we are able to take in what is being presented to us and carry on, unscathed, with a plan or even a clue? Not so much. Here’s what I think: I think we’re given what we’re given. When it’s too much, we handle the little bit that we can and the rest is broken up and put into a million tiny boxes, intended to be dealt with at our own convenience, at some point in the future. The reality is that we never find the time, life gets in the way, and those tiny boxes start to break loose from the tight little corners in which we tucked them. They come after us, pelting us in the head and in the heart at the most inopportune moments imaginable – when we’re speaking to an insurance agent or buying coffee. People think that we’ve lost it; that we’re drunk or insane. These people have been lucky; they’ve managed to outrun their tiny boxes. Or maybe they just packed them better.
These people mean well. They have faith. They have hope that we, as civilized human beings, can cope with hardship and pain in a way that is both dignified and sane. I have the same hope, but I’m starting to sleep with one eye open because I know how hastily I’ve packed those tiny boxes.