Life is full of "unexpecteds". I'm sure I've just stated the obvious for anyone out there who is a living, breathing human being.
My husband's stroke 9 months ago was definitely unexpected. There have been many unexpected situations since then; none quite as devastating as the stroke, and many have been pleasant and helpful unexpecteds.
Last Friday at about 7 AM, my neighbor knocked on the door and walked in with a rather large box full of goodies from Panera. She went out and returned with 2 garbage bags full of breads and bagels. Two other neighbors had gone to Panera the night before and asked for leftovers. Now, Panera leftovers have come to our neighborhood before, but they've all been split up between several families. This was the first time I was the sole recipient of the Panera loot. My freezer is stocked with bread and goodies for months to come.
That was a nice unexpected.
Today I went to the hospital to visit a friend who is on bed rest until her baby is born. She is 27 weeks and 5 days pregnant, and her water broke last week. Upon determining there was no infection, the doctors decided she should not have the baby yet, but stay in the hospital on complete bed rest until the little guy or girl makes his or her appearance. Kind of a scary situation, so if you could pray for my friend, I'm sure she would be ever so grateful. But she's in the best place possible for a complicated pregnancy, so I'm sure she's in great hands.
Here's the unexpected part. I've sort of been dragging my feet about getting over to see her. As soon as I stepped into the hospital and was greeted by the all-too-familiar smells and sounds, I started to feel sick, kind of sad. I went to the reception desk, where I had to check in every. single. time. that I went to visit my husband. There was no frequent visitor pass. The same ladies were working at the reception desk. I was almost surprised that they didn't say, "HI! How ARE you? Haven't seen you in a while!" I stepped on the elevator and was joined by a woman in a wheelchair pushed by her young daughter, or niece, maybe. They were heading to 6th floor. I told her my husband lived on 6th floor for 6 weeks, and I was his wheelchair driver. Small talk, I guess. She probably didn't care. I got off at 3rd floor. That's the Labor and Delivery and Mother-Baby Center floor - the "fun" floor. It's always fun to go and visit someone on 3rd floor because it means they've welcomed a precious new baby into the world. And even though my friend hasn't delivered her baby yet, my mood was lightened by the thought of tiny newborns, swaddled in pink and blue hospital-issue blankets, with pacifiers stuffed in their mouths.
When I got to her room, we talked for a few minutes. Then I started crying and told her I had been hesitant to visit her because of the memories of Al being in the hospital.
The unexpected here was the fact that I was so emotional about being in the hospital again. I kept telling myself, "Al is OK. Al is home. Al is getting better every day. Al is alive." But I guess the severity of his situation is still emphasized by hospital memories. I managed to wipe the tears away pretty quickly and move on, but I'm still surprised by my reaction.
A final unexpected: I was behind my husband in line to receive Communion at Mass today. As I watched him make his way with his limp and his cane, I succumbed to a brief wave of anger. That happens once in a while. I just get so damn angry at the stroke for doing what it did to Al, and in turn what it has done to our family. It has stretched us all beyond what we thought we were capable of, and it has taxed us in many ways. But I hope and pray that in the end, it will bring us closer and make us stronger.
Even with the unexpected, God knows our needs and knows how to meet them. The one thing I can always expect is that He is faithful.