Starting Over, or– Life at the Roadkill Cafe

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Life can focus on one of two things:  either on what is ending or what is beginning.  Life is about both beginnings and endings, but we choose whether we make our lives about one or the other, whether it’s lost dreams or new perspectives, the life that’s crumbled or the life still to be lived.

When I started looking for a picture that would go with these profound truths,  I pulled up the one of me standing in front of the Roadkill Cafe on our little adventure down Route 66 last year as we were driving to the Grand Canyon.  Okay, I thought, let’s see where we go with this one.  Could it have something to do with the fact my son was hit by a car recently?  That the menu features such entrees as “Bad-brake steak” and “The chicken who didn’t cross the road”?  and I am careening down the hill marked SLOW DOWN–You’re Turning 60!?

Certainly, after these past six weeks of pushing my 6’1″, 185 lb. son around in a wheelchair, I feel like a “fender tender”.  Add eight hours of jet lag and I’m as flat as, well, a “caddie-grilled pattie.”  Yes, I could definitely go on.  But the thing is, even though I may feel like roadkill at the moment, life moves on and once again, there is this shift and I must choose my focus.

I tell myself these things because so much of my life seems to have been about starting over in new places, loss and hope and letting go–“a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.”

That last is the hardest–letting go, refraining from embracing what I don’t want to let go, not in the physical sense, but in the broad sense of “not clinging to what is no longer mine to cling to.”  This is not an easy thing to do, because how do you tell when to keep clinging and when to let go?

I let my children go two years ago at 17 and 16 to finish their education in America.  It has not been an easy process.  They are still so young, and it took years of overcoming infertility for me to even have them.  Yet, they are not mine, but God’s, and my job all along has been to launch them into the lives God has planned for them.

Of course, I worry.  There are terrorists out there, lunatics with automatic weapons, airplanes that blow up.  I’m not prepared to hear about a jogging accident in a crosswalk.  It’s so random.  But then most accidents are.  They happen, and you have to start over.  The body needs to be fixed and heal.  You start over from weakness and work your way back to strength.  That is a given.  But in order to get back to that place, you have to persevere.  You cling to life, and life is strength.

So, while Earth Son perseveres in embracing his life and healing process, I must once again disengage and leave him.  I have done all I can in helping him get back on his feet.  Now I am home, I am starting over with mixed up days and nights and this mixed identity of mine.  Who am I?  I started life as a writer, then exchanged it for motherhood because it was all I really wanted and it came at a cost.  It has been the greatest twenty years of my life but my children are ready for lives of their own.  With this accident, God seemed to be saying to me, “Whatever happens to him, I am with him. Trust me in this.  It’s time for you to move on now.”So, I am starting over as a writer again.  I read an article in the New York Times recently comparing the roles of writer and mother (Cusk, Rachel, “What she bears:  Burdens of infertility”, Intl. New York Times, Sept. 3-4, 2016).  Both are consumed with the act and process of creation that doesn’t always produce the desired outcome, ie. a published book or a living, breathing healthy child.  Infertility halts both, killing the dream of words and love.  I have known the rejection of submitted manuscripts and the defeatism of lost years of empty pages as well as the pain of rejected pregnancies and lost, empty years of childlessness.  Both have their own relentless disappointment and crippling self-doubt.  But when a book is published and a baby is finally born, there can be no greater joy for both writer and mother, because both affirm and embrace life in a way that connects us to Creator God.  We see in the act of creation what we were made for, to be participants in this celebration of life and its new beginnings.

Before God answered my desire for motherhood, I had to choose whether or not the loss of this dream would affect my ability to still celebrate life.  That was hard.  I really was stuck in the Roadkill Cafe.  It’s much safer sitting there comforting yourself with homemade pie than standing on the edge of the highway, terrified another truck is going to mow down your hope.

So, here I am, climbing back on the highway, wondering if I will ever publish anything again.  I am overwhelmed by what is racing past me, the digital age of e-books, social platforms, and publishing conglomerates.  What are my chances?

“Starting Over” is my new book.  It’s about a journey, taken by many different people in different situations, and yet similar to my own.  It’s about infertility of the spirit and what causes us to lose focus in life.  Jesus addresses that spirit in the lives of people He transforms in the gospel of John.  Starting over, choosing to begin again, choosing the miraculous happens when we find in Him the wellspring of “living water.”

The Roadkill Cafe isn’t hard to find on old Route 66.  But it is now definitely a detour off the main modern highway.  It’s easy to spend hours there when just ahead is the Grand Canyon.  The Grand Canyon will change your life.  So does faith.  The writer of the article on motherhood, writing, and infertility left out faith.  We can jettison faith easily in infertile times, or maybe even more easily in the fertile times when we don’t feel the need for it.  Or, we can cling to it as a life-giving source that has the power to transform us, come what may, because the Author of our souls stands firmly, unchanging behind it.